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'Redmen' and 'Redettes' name change debate continues

(WLUC)
Published: Jan. 2, 2020 at 5:11 PM EST
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Since the late 1990s there has been periodic scrutiny over Marquette Area Public Schools’ (MAPS) use of the “Redmen” and “Redettes” as high school nicknames.

After incidents during this past year's homecoming festivities, a possible nickname change is being looked at again.

"Being a responsive school district, our next step was let's take a look at the issue. What is it? What are the issues that are going on there? Can we as a district look at that school climate and culture, and are there ways we could possibly improve that?” questioned MAPS Superintendent, Bill Saunders.

Saunders says students have had negative instances revolving around the names, shared mostly on social media.

Many have expressed concern that the nicknames negatively impact Native American students.

"In some of the ways that the students are trying to show school pride, maybe come off as being offensive to that 7-8 percent of our student body that's Native,” said Saunders.

Many people in the community have voiced their opinions on the issue.

Kristi Campbell, who attended Marquette Senior High School, says the nicknames should remain and that they're a source of pride for many. Campbell adds that the name “Redmen” originated from the school’s colors, and that it was never intended to be derogatory towards Native Americans.

"The Redmen/Redettes actually had nothing to do with Native Americans. Many people know that now, it's come out. The thing is, when the Indian chief logo was added on, it actually had the support of local Native Americans and the support of the school,” Campbell said.

However, some residents would like to see the name changed.

G.G. Gordon, a Marquette resident, believes the use of the nicknames creates a negative environment for the district's students and the Upper Peninsula’s Native American population.

"Times change and images change, and the understanding of language changes. Sometimes, to do what's right for the people, in some ways, at least able to speak up for themselves because they're outnumbered, we need to change along with those times,” Gordon said.

A committee was put together to research the impact the nicknames have on students and the school’s climate. You can read the findings by clicking

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At the December 16 MAPS Board meeting, the MSHS Nickname Research Committee formally recommended to change the nickname. At that meeting, the board listened to public comments on the topic. Most people spoke in favor of changing the nickname. The board did not set a timeline for making a decision on whether to move forward with the committee's recommendation.

The nickname issue is not on the agenda for Monday night's board meeting, however, people on both sides of the issue are planning to address the board during the scheduled time for general public comments.

On Friday's TV6 Early News, we'll dive deeper into just what the possible name change process involves, and what has been done so far.

You can watch Monday's board meeting live on our

and on the

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to check out part two of this two-part series.