Action will change school nickname, not open forums and other talks
At Thursday’s “Chippewa” nickname forum, all the panelists agreed that Central Michigan University’s nickname, used for all athletics teams, needs to change.
They cited that the nickname is offensive to Native American people, and that the change would not be quick.
Instead of holding forums and talking about how the nickname needs to be changed, students and faculty that feel strongly about the nickname should act now to begin the name-changing process.
Discussing change and what should be done is important, but those discussions have been happening for years. In 2005, the NCAA deemed 18 schools used Native American symbols and names offensive and that they needed to change their nicknames and/or symbols. CMU was granted permission to use the nickname with the blessing of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribal leadership. CMU also has gone to the extent of eliminating all Native American-related lore in the athletics realm, including the omission of spears and feathers, in 1989.
But if there are problems with the nickname, then those students and faculty that feel it needs to go should step up and begin the process to change it.
Even though the process may take a while, the time to begin is now.
How to do it If students and faculty are curious as to how they can go about changing it, they can check out the University of North Dakota.
The university, in Grand Forks, N.D., saw students and faculty protest the nickname the Fighting Sioux. It was enough to where the school had until Oct. 1 of this year to change the name or be banned from NCAA postseason play. Without the approval of both Sioux tribes in North Dakota, the school will have to change the nickname. The deadline for approval has since been extended, with still no result.
Going forward to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s council would be a logical first step. The Tribe has given CMU its blessing for use of the nickname in years past and, without approval, the nickname “Chippewas” would not be allowed. It would take a while to complete, as the Tribe has continued to give its blessing on the name. Charlene Teters, a professor at the Institute of Indian Arts, would be a great person to begin working with.
Teters fought against the University of Illinois to have the former mascot, Chief Illiniwek, removed because it was deemed offensive. Working with her to help remove the nickname would prove beneficial, since she has proven to know how to remove Native American nicknames.
While hosting panels is a great way to spread the message about the nickname, it is only the surface work if the nickname does need to be changed.
And those that are calling for the name’s end needs to hit the ground running instead of just talking about it.