I was contacted Wednesday afternoon By Ms Whitesall concerning the protest of the 
Huron nickname.  We talked for close to twenty minutes on the phone as to why using a 
people as a nickname can never be done "respectfully".  She also contacted the tribal 
office of at least one of the Wendat Confederacy nations and was told essentially the 
This total disregard for the peoples' words in favor of a "token" is precisely what 
this issue revolves around.  We are NOT anyone's token Indians.  And we are NOT going 
away.  Despite a few reporters who may wish otherwise.
Editor, Native News

Is EMU debate over nickname worth the fight?
Friday, December 10, 1999

AA few years ago, my church got new hymnals.

In an attempt to make them a little more mainstream and inclusive, the wording was 
changed in some songs, and some old favorites were left out. And even though we still 
have the old hymnals and still use them from time to time, some people have stayed 
away in protest.

There are a couple of ways to look at that. One is that they stood up for something 
they believed in; the other is that they were willing to walk away from that part of 
their lives over a relatively small, well-intentioned change.

And I have to wonder if that's worth the cost.

About nine years ago, Eastern Michigan's athletic teams got a new nickname.

In an attempt to keep from offending Native American students, EMU dropped its Huron 
nickname and logo, even though some Huron tribe members say they weren't offended in 
the first place.

It has been almost a decade since the nickname change, and a lot of people on both 
sides of the issue are sick of the fight. But this is the Pandora's box of athletic 
issues. The hurt and bad feelings that have come out over the last nine years will 
haunt EMU well into the next century. And there's no way to stuff it all back inside.

Restore the nickname? That only opens up the debate from the other side. The groups 
that supported the change in the first place haven't gone away, either. This week, 
they picketed three Ypsilanti businesses that display the Huron logo.

It won't end anytime soon because everyone believes they're fighting the good fight.

EMU's outgoing president, Dr. William Shelton, has said it was a matter of doing right 
by EMU's Native American students back in 1990. The Huron Wyandotte tribe chiefs say 
the EMU nickname and logo were a fine way to keep the tribe's name alive.

On those two fronts the issue is simple because neither will listen to a word the 
other has to say anymore. But there's no easy answer in this complicated, emotional 

On one hand, you've got Native American students at EMU who are against the whole idea 
of using a tribal name for a nickname, whether it's intended with respect or not. They 
want nothing to do with the stereotypes.

On the other hand, you've got a core of alumni and community members who are fiercely 
proud of the old nickname and don't see how it hurts anyone. They love their school 
and they see only one way to make EMU whole again.

It may help to understand that some of those alumni were part of the grassroots effort 
that kept the Mid-American Conference from kicking EMU out in the mid-1980s. So what 
does that have to do with nicknames?

Imagine your school is in trouble and you get caught up in a community effort to save 
the day. You sweat and you work, and eventually you get it done. Nothing brands itself 
on your soul quite like being part of something larger than yourself. It's a 
wonderful, powerful feeling.

Now imagine your school, the one you've invested so much in, makes an unpopular 
change, and its administration enforces the change with all the subtlety of a cattle 

Anger. Alienation. Resentment.

Then you start to think, "Hey, we did it before and made everything right. We can do 
it again." And the Huron Restoration Alumni Chapter is born.

EMU might have helped the transition by actively recognizing and embracing its Huron 
history. But in its enthusiasm to make the change complete, the school went to the 
other extreme. There are stories of people salvaging old trophies with "Hurons" on 
them from dumpsters.

The problem with the Huron issue is that it has become a symbol of an administration 
that Huron supporters feel is trying to push them around.

I liked the Huron nickname. It was unique and I think EMU treated it well. You 
certainly don't have to like Eagles, which is as generic a nickname as there is. But 
EMU is more than a nickname. And if you've stayed away because of it, at some point 
you've got to decide for yourself if it's worth the cost.

You can reach Whitesall at 734-994-6815, or e-mail her at [EMAIL PROTECTED]

<<<<=-=-=                                  =-=-=>>>> 
"We simply chose an Indian as the emblem.
  We could have just as easily chosen any
uncivilized animal."
   Eighth Grade student writing about his school's
   mascot, 1997
<<<<=-=  =-=>>>> 

<<<<=-=-=FREE LEONARD PELTIER!!!=-=-=>>>>

Reply via email to