LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Native American imagery in schools detrimental to students, perpetuates stereotypes

Published 10:43 am Thursday, March 7, 2024

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Dear Editor,

As a prospective candidate seeking the nomination of the Natural Law Party for Michigan Board of Education this November and as a Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians citizen, I would like to address the detrimental impact of using native imagery for mascots in schools, particularly on indigenous children.

Native American imagery in schools can contribute to a hostile learning environment for Native American students by reinforcing stereotypes and diminishing their cultural identities. Research has shown that exposure to stereotypical representations of one’s own racial or ethnic group can lead to lower self-esteem and academic achievement among minority students. Additionally, the use of Native American mascots can promote a false and oversimplified understanding of Native American history and culture, further marginalizing Native American students and erasing the complexities of their heritage.

It is crucial for schools to create inclusive environments where all students feel valued and respected. By removing Native American imagery and mascots, schools can take a meaningful step towards fostering a more inclusive and equitable learning environment for Native American students. Instead of perpetuating stereotypes, schools should focus on teaching accurate and respectful representations of Native American history and culture.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize the voices of Native American communities who have long advocated for the removal of these symbols. Many Native American individuals and organizations have spoken out against the use of Native American mascots, citing the harm they cause to their communities. It is imperative that we listen to and respect these voices in our efforts to create a more inclusive society.

In conclusion, the use of Native American imagery and mascots in public schools has a detrimental impact on Native American students and perpetuates harmful stereotypes. It is time for schools to take action and remove these symbols in order to create a more inclusive and respectful learning environment for all students.


Jason Gatties