Dozens push change to Manhattan H.S. mascot

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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Indians have been Manhattan High School's symbol for the last several decades, but this high school mascot is causing uproar among people in the community including Michele Janette

“It’s obviously part of a tradition of appropriating and demoting Native American cultures,” said Janette. “It teaches people that that’s okay whether it impacts that person indirectly or directly.”

A group of over 30 people gathered to talk about changing Manhattan High School’s mascot, an image that to them is offensive towards the Native American community.

“It’s a mascot image that is very offensive toward Native American people and it is not anything that is new as far as the conversation,” said Sonya Ortiz, concerned resident. “This is its third time coming around and being approached as far as affecting Native American community people.”

People against changing the school's mascot say the image represents school history and tradition because it honors former football coach, Frank Prentup, but Ortiz believes that there are different ways to honor a school figure.

“There are ways in honoring Native American people and Native American community,” said Ortiz. “Some of those ways are getting involved in native american environmental issues.”

13 NEWS reached out to the school board on the issue. In an email, USD 383 communications director Michele Jones, said the issue is not currently on any board agenda, but that isn't stopping this group.

“Traditions are constantly being changed,” said Janette. “We decide that certain things are the traditions we want keep doing and certain things are the traditions we want to adjust and I want my kid to grow up with a tradition of being respectful of everybody and inclusive of everybody.”

The group hopes to attend more school board meetings in order to get the board involved.

Some Manhattan High School students are also pushing for the mascot change and even went as far as writing an editorial for their high school paper, The Mentor. In the article the student's claim that "the arguments for such a change are centered mainly about the concept of ensuring basic human rights and dignity."

The editiorial can be found on this link: http://www.mhsmentor.com/3306/opinions/indian-mascot-needs-to-change/