Racist School Mascot

August 11, 2015

In response to community concerns, Eastern Michigan University wisely abandoned its offensive use of a Native American “Huron” as a mascot for the school in 1991. However, in 2012 the Huron logo reappeared on the school’s marching band uniforms, hidden beneath a flap on the jackets. Members of the Native American Student Organization (NASO) complained repeatedly to former University President Susan Martin to no avail. Meanwhile, the controversy sparked a series of related incidents of racial harassment on campus. One of the more serious involved the ridicule and assault of an older Native American man by students dressed in “red-face” and feathers who claimed to be Hurons.

In June 2015 the ACLU of Michigan and representatives from the U.S. Department of Justice attended a meeting with NASO and President Martin. The meeting was tense and the ACLU urged removal of the logo from the band uniforms, but there was steadfast refusal to yield. The ACLU followed up with a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents related to the decision to return the logo to the uniforms, as well as documents related to other incidents of harassment. After President Martin left EMU to assume a new position at a university in California, EMU’s interim president announced in August 2015 that the logo would be removed from the uniforms and the Huron mascot permanently retired.

(ACLU Attorney Mark Fancher.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.