School districts across the country have been changing their mascots in the name of political correctness, a newfound organization is urging Manhattan High School to follow suit. On Wednesday evening, ReImage MHS held their inaugural meeting at the First United Methodist Church Harris Activity Center with a crowd of thirty activitists in attendance.
Prior to 1940, Manhattan was represented by a variety of mascots including the Blues and Junior Wildcats. The district wanted to memorialize former coach Frank Prentup of Native American heritage. The decision to honor the University of Colorado Athletic Hall of Fame coach by his ethnicity has taken flak over the years.
Now, Manhattan residents are looking for a better way to represent the high school and end the appropriation of Native American culture. Sonya Ortiz, Lisa Tatonetti, and LaVerne Bitsie-Baldwin are proud of their indigenous heritage and want to change the way Manhattan views Native Americans. With the help of sub-committees, fundraising, campaigning, and recruiting, ReImage MHS eventually plans to launch a community-wide initiative with final goal being a new mascot representing the high school.
According to Tatonetti, student media at MHS recently published an editorial indicating a desire for change within the school. Also citing the Hiawatha, Kansas school district which changed it’s mascot sixteen years ago, she feels Manhattan can do the same.
“I think a lot of people…would see an attempt to change the mascot as an attack on the school, which it’s not. It’s an attempt to make the school better,” said Tatonetti, who is a professor at K-State.
Bitsie-Baldwin also noted Adidas has recently extended their hand to schools across the nation, offering to partially fund any effort by schools looking to shed any images that misrepresent Native Americans.
“The imagery they have right now – that doesn’t even depict the actual people who lived here in the Kansas area,” said Sonya Ortiz. “They always want to objectify the headdress look, but that’s not us.”
In 2001, the Board of Education narrowly voted to keep the Indian mascot with the stipulation it may not be depicted in a warlike fashion. The Indian was redesigned by Brent Yancey, a former MHS teacher and member of the Pottawatomie Nation.
By engaging the community, ReImagineMHK hopes the Indian will soon be gone for good.