USD 383 retains Manhattan Indians' nickname - for now

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TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW)-- USD 383 will keep Manhattan High School's Indian mascot - at least, for now.

The Manhattan-Ogden school board voted 7-0 Wednesday night to retain the nickname and mascot, but from a committee which will explore creating a new mascot, which is distinct from the Indian image and name. Their vote followed 90 minutes of discussion among board members.

The committee also will be tasked with determining costs associated with changing the mascot, along with creating educational emphasis on Native American culture for students, staff and faculty and finding a way to rename a facility to honor Frank Prentrup.

The latter task is part of the history of the Indians' mascot. The district adopted the nickname in 1940 as a way to honor the former football coach, who was of Native-American descent.

However, over the past couple of decades, the high school nickname has divided the community. Supporters of the mascot say it honors Native American culture and community pride, while those opposed say it is offensive to Native Americans.

Throughout the last several weeks, the Manhattan-Ogden School board have gotten feedback from students and community members on the mascot issue. One public forum attracted some 500 people.

The special committee will begin meeting in January. It will include students, teachers and community members.