Marquette MSHS nickname change long overdue

The Marquette Senior High School Nickname Research Committee has recommended Marquette Area Public Schools discontinue the nicknames of Redmen and Redettes for Marquette Senior High School.

Although it’s ultimately up to the MAPS Board of Education to make the final decision, board President Rich Rossway urged the board to make a measured, thoughtful study of the committee’s lengthy report before it renders that decision.

The former logo of a Native American in a headdress had been phased out over the last 10 years, with the block letter “M” replacing it. However, the nicknames remain, event though Redmen originally was conceived from the the red, or crimson-red, sweater of the college alma mater, Harvard, of a former MAPS superintendent.

The name Redmen eventually took on a different, and to some, offensive meaning over the years.

Many schools with Native American nicknames have grappled with this subject. University of North Dakota teams were called the Fighting Sioux until 2012, when more than two-thirds of voters in a statewide election cast ballots to drop the nickname. UND students now are known as the Fighting Hawks.

Other schools that changed their nicknames include Marquette University, from Warriors to Golden Eagles, and Dartmouth College, from Indians to the Big Green.

Some people might argue that nicknames “honor” Native Americans by depicting them as having certain virtues. Is being considered a warrior, though, an honor or a stereotype?

And what about one of the most egregious examples, the Washington Redskins? The nickname specifically points to skin color, not the Fighting Whatever — and Redmen and Redettes come pretty close.

Should the school board approve discontinuing the use of Redmen and Redettes, that leaves the matter of finding a new nickname and mascot.

However, that could be an enjoyable and socially unifying exercise for the school and community.

In the meantime, we agree with the research committee’s recommendation. Changing the nickname was long overdue and we hope the people who feel a certain historical loss understand why the change was necessary.

And as was said in Monday’s school meeting when the committee issued its opinion, if only one person is offended, that’s enough.


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