Hurons no more. EMU does the right thing and agrees to give up their Native American mascot for a second… and hopefully final… time.

09082012_SPT_EMUvIllStFB_JTA few months ago, when I talked with representatives from Eastern Michigan University’s Native American Student Organization (NASO) on The Saturday Six Pack, it didn’t sound as though negotiations with the administration were going well. University leadership, from their perspective, had made up their mind to bring back the “Huron” mascot after over 20 years, and they weren’t willing to reconsider.

As NASO’s Michelle Lietz told to us at the time, EMU President Susan Martin, when asked to remove the mascot from band uniforms, where it had recently sprung up behind a secret flap, had been “very dismissive.” While Martin showed some initial interest in working with NASO to better educate the EMU community about Native American issues, that didn’t last long, according to Lietz and fellow NASO member Chris Sutton. They apparently told Martin, “We can’t educate the public until the logo is removed,” at which point her demeanor changed. She, it would seem, didn’t want to talk about how, since the mascot had come back, there had been reports of drunken EMU students in “redface” taunting a local Native American man, or how it wasn’t, in their opinion, an “honor” to have their sports teams take the name of tribe that never actually existed. [Huron, according to Sutton and Lietz, if I recall our conversation correctly, means something like “bristly pig” in French, and was a name assigned to the Wyandot people by early fur traders in the area.] President Martin, they said, responded by telling them how much money had been invested in the new uniforms. [Rumor has it that an alumnus of the University demanded that the mascot be brought back, and refused to make a donation until such time that it had.] Native American elder Nathan Phillips, who also joined us on this episode, summed it up this way… “Money’s more important than a person’s dignity,” he said.

But that was a few months ago, though, and things have apparently taken a turn at EMU since President Martin announced that she’d be leaving office. Earlier today, Lietz posted the following to Facebook.


According to the Detroit Free Press, EMU Interim President Kim Schatzel shortly thereafter made it official, sending a note to members of the EMU community. “This morning I notified members of the Native American Student Organization and their faculty advisor, Dr. Lori Burlingame, that I am initiating a process to remove the Huron logo from the jackets of the EMU Marching Band,” she said. “The university will be purchasing new uniform jackets with no logos nor symbols other than the block E, which will continue to be on the outside of the jacket.” Schatzel, according to the Free Press, went on to say that this would happen “as expeditiously as possible” and that the associated costs would be paid for by the EMU Foundation, using donated funds.

This is very good news, and I’m very happy for Lietz, Sutton and the other young people of NASCO who made this happen. They were tenacious as hell, and I couldn’t be more impressed by them… Here’s hoping they never stop.


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  1. Demetrius
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    “Drunken EMU students in ‘redface” taunting a local Native American man” is clearly unacceptable, and needs to be addressed/punished, as would be a mocking caricature of local Native Americans or culture – like Washington’s so-called “Tomahawk Chop”.” (To the best of my knowledge, the old Huron logo was nothing like this.) I also agree that EMU should offer/require substantial local history courses that emphasize our area’s very real treatment of Native American people, and the lingering consequences of that treatment.

    That said, merely eliminating a name and logo to satisfy the grievances of a minority of people (many of whom do not even have Native American background) – especially in a region that features Huron River Drive, the Huron River, Huron County, Lake Huron, the Huron National Forest, etc. – seems to me to be a mighty over-reaction, and the worst kind of politically -correct decision possible.

    The Huron logo “controversy” seems like it is a perfect opportunity for students and locals to actually learn about our local history, and our area’s relationship to Native American people. Instead, the intent here seems to be “sanitize” it, and sweep it under the rug … Where does this end? I can imagine that nearly anybody can find something offensive in nearly any name if they search hard enough.

    There are plenty of real outrages going on every day that people can, and should, be focusing on. (The 0verwhelming number of “furniture rental” and “payday loan” outfits in our community, as just one example). Instead, many people seem to fixate on manufactured outrages … which only serves to trivialize the overall fight against real ones, and lends credence to many mainstream people’s criticism of “the left.”

  2. Anonymous
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    With all due respect, Demetrius, you might as well say “How dare you fight for gay marriage when there are people starving in the world.” The truth is, there are a lot of things that need to be changed and these EMU students got one changed. Let’s celebrate that and encourage them to go on and do more. Let’s not chastise them for focusing on things you feel are unimportant.

  3. Demetrius
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    All I’m saying is there is limited time, and limited energy, and its important to pick our battles wisely.

    Far more people are being far more damaged by many other things that are going on in our community every day – but since this issue has gotten attention, and traction, than those, it rises above the others.

    The problem with the left seems to be that people wan to work on what seems popular, or feels good at the time, rather than have work on a strategic vision that results in real change.

  4. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    The real issue for me is that nobody has faith, and rightfully so, that a university is capable of using a name and logo in a way that is both honoring a group of people and is conducive toward education. What the hell is wrong with the world?

  5. maryd
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Anonymous, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    Native Americans have spoken clearly on this topic. There is no doubt and all the other teams need to quit too.

  6. Jules
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Here’s the thing, Demitrius. You want to talk about wasting time? This was all hashed out years ago, people got on with life and the only reason more time had to be wasted on it was because of the absolutely asinine decision to bring the stupic thing back. From EMU Interim President Kim Schatzel,”This action results from a thorough review, by myself and members of EMU’s senior leadership team, of the 1991 decision by the Board of Regents to stop using the Huron logo and name,” she said in an email. “… As we all know, controversy and questions surrounding the use of logos and symbols that are offensive to some groups or community members is a highly complex issue that is not isolated to Eastern Michigan University.’j

  7. SeaEagle
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    maryd, SOME Native Americans have spoken. I have Wyandot heritage and I welcome tributes to our impact here in Michigan. This weekend, I’ll be travelling to Huron Country and kayaking in Lake Huron and I’m proud that these place names honor Native Americans. Hurons is not a derogatory term, like Redskins, and EMU could easily use the mascot as a vehicle to celebrate the people who once lived where today’s campus sits.

  8. site admin
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Ypsilanti’s Native American history:

  9. maryd
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    SeaEagle…enjoy your kayaking trip. My kids enjoy kayking the Huron river and many others. You may be the exception that proves the rule.

  10. Posted August 12, 2015 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    ”The truth is, there are a lot of things that need to be changed and these EMU students got one changed. ”

    Yes, but Native Americans are still among the poorest and most marginalized people in the country. Changing a logo won’t help that.

    If students got that to change, they would have my undying support.

  11. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    As was reported in past threads, the original logo change in 1991 did not have full support from the Native American community, not at all….. I hate to say it but there was some truth behind what Trump said: Political Correctness is part of the problem….EMU misses opportunities because it is in the habit of doing the lamest things….Not a big victory…Maybe not a huge setback either….

  12. Lynne
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I think this is positive. And for those who feel that these students were wasting their time on a non-issue, I guess we can be glad it is over and now they put their energy to something else. Goodness knows, as Peter Larson has pointed out, there is plenty of work to be done.

  13. Demetrius
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    99% of people in this country are working much harder for much less money than only a few decades ago; compared to their parents, many young people are saddled with insurmountable student debt, and much poorer options for careers and home-ownership; our state and national legislatures are owned and controlled by wealthy and powerful corporations instead of the citizens that are supposed to elect them; our so-called mainstream “watchdog” press’ has become mostly a “lapdog” press – and, with a few notable exceptions, is mostly a national disgrace; and, our economic structure and laws are clearly tilted ever-more in favor of penalizing poor and unsophisticated people with higher prices, higher interest rates, obscene penalties, “user fees” and scams of every imaginable sort …

    Against this backdrop, the Huron “logo” issue (which, frankly, seems hardly seems offensive, among many truly offensive examples) seems like such low-hanging fruit … a relatively easy win that may make some liberals feel better about themselves temporarily … but ultimately, a “victory” that will do little/nothing to improve the everyday lives of the people who deserve and need it most.

    Wake up! While we’re busy/distracted fighting with each other over gender/race/sexual orientation/ethnicity, etc … they are busy stealing what’s left of our Democracy out from under us.

  14. tommy
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    This whole fiasco was the result of poor leadership on behalf of the EMU President. Could have been a reasonable compromise at the time (CMU as a perfect example of the right way to manage the issue).

    Shelton was kind of an ass at the time and pissed off a lot of proud alumni. The guy after him – Kirkpatrick – fucked up the whole President’s house thing, the guy after him covered up a horrible murder on campus.

    John Porter would have handled things so much better !

  15. kjc
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    This either/or bullshit is just that. It’s not deep thinking. It’s idiocy. Wake up yourself.

  16. Bob
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Just put the water tower on everything and get it over with. The EMU Water Dicks.

  17. anony
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    alrighty then…buried, and forgotten. Yep, sure feels better already.

  18. Denise Heberle
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    At a demonstration over this two years ago, a man told me he found dozens of priceless Huron artifacts, including a full head dress in a dumpster during renovations to the school. Some honor.

  19. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I hope this does not startle you out of your deep thoughts kjc, but if you read all of what Demetrius wrote above, you will notice that Demetrius is actually advocating a much more complex and meaningful response to the “logo issue” than the route that seems to have been taken. Although we will see how it plays out, I suspect, there will be real and meaningful costs to the sanitizing effect of political correctness. I think the Huron leaders expressed similar concerns in 1991.

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Denise, that is some news worthy stuff right there. Maybe someone could convince this man to share his story and artifacts (if he still has them) with Mark, for the blog….

  21. Professor Hick
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    How do Mark Maynard’s acolytes feel about teams like the Florida State Seminoles, where the team has support of the tribe to use their name, and the tribe approves of their ahistorical, made-up, “tomahawk” gesture? Is that OK, or is it still offensive? My guess is that the average Mark Maynard sycophant is offended, but afraid to call out the Seminole tribe for Uncle Tom-ism. Anybody disagree?

    Also, for as much pseudo-historical sophistry as I’ve read on this blog to justify politically-correct posturing about why the Huron name itself, independent of its application to a sports team, is offensive, has no one actually tried to research the history of the EMU team name?

    Look, someone with a History PhD actually wrote an academic paper about EMU, CMU, and U. Illinois, and contrasts the trajectory of their Indian tribe team names:

    What’s in a Name?: A Historical Look at Native American-Related Nicknames and Symbols at Three U.S. Universities
    Mark R. Connolly
    The Journal of Higher Education
    Vol. 71, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 2000), pp. 515-547

  22. dragon
    Posted August 12, 2015 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    If students got that to change, they would have my undying support.

    Who wants your support? Not interesting.

  23. maryd
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    This is all a rehash…it has that been here done this before kind of quality to it eh?
    All of us can come up with anecdotal notes about this on both “sides”. I love when people cry PC when they are about to be very incorrect, that is flouting their own opinions while disregarding the harm their words can cause. My take on this is that there are no sides. If you are not a Native American you do not get to decide what is offensive to Native Americans.
    According to the American Congress of American Indians…
    “From time immemorial, the greatness of tribal nations and Native people has been the foundation of America’s story. From tribes’ role as America’s first governments, to modern day actors, athletes, and political leaders, Native people contribute to American greatness every single day. Negative Indian stereotypes – especially those perpetuated by sports mascots – affect the reputation and self-image of every single Native person and foster ongoing discrimination against tribal citizens.
    In general, NCAI strongly opposes the use of derogatory Native sports mascots. However, in the case where mascots refer to a particular Native nation or nations, NCAI respects the right of individual tribal nations to work with universities and athletic programs to decide how to protect and celebrate their respective tribal heritage.
    Indian mascots and stereotypes present a misleading image of Indian people and feed the historic myths that have been used to whitewash a history of oppression. Despite decades of work to eliminate the use of discrimination and derogatory images in American sports, the practice has not gone away.”

  24. Frosted Flakes
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    There is a difference between name, logo, and mascot.

    There is also a difference between the various treatment of different names, logos, and mascots.

    I will give you this: No sports team I am aware of has used a Native American mascot in a way that didn’t seem potentially offensive. I seriously doubt EMU would be able to rethink and incorporate a Native American mascot in an a non offensive way, if it is even possible. Respectful handling of a logo and name (while fulfilling the educational responsibilities it entails) is another story. Huron leaders agreed with that thought in 1991, I beleive.

    Wheras some people see victory victory others see lost opportunity. Same team. Sort of.

  25. Lynne
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Ultimately, it comes down to power to position in society I think. To those white people who want to use Native American mascots, my suggestion is that they do everything possible to elevate Native Americans such that their level of privilege is equal to that of white people. Once that is completed, go on with whatever mascot you want and my guess is that even if it is cartoonish and plays on slightly offensive stereotyping, such mascots in an era of equal political and social power would go over in ways similar to how the “Fighting Irish” mascot of Notre Dame goes over. You’ve got a LOT of work to do though and no shortcuts. Using the mascot while there is still a power differential is simply unacceptable.

  26. Andrew Maniotes
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Before we get the usual defenders of the Huron, I’d like to remind everyone that is not the “original” logo. This snarling “savage” is. Yeah…. it’s worse than we thought.

  27. Demetrius
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    @ Andrew

    I agree that the representation you’ve provided is disrespectful, offensive, and unacceptable.

    But, is it the one we’ve been discussing/arguing about?

    At some point, it seems that someone, somewhere recognized that the previous version was unacceptable for this purpose, and decided to replace it with a much less offensive version. Is that not itself a sign of progress?

  28. Jean Henry
    Posted August 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    I would like a t-shirt that says “Average Mark Maynard Sycophant,” please.

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] (NASO), who will tell us how it came to pass that Eastern finally gave up the fight and agreed to get rid of their controversial “Huron” logo once and for all. Lietz, I should add, will be joined in the studio by local historian Matt Siegfried, who will be […]

  2. […] (NASO), who will tell us how it came to pass that Eastern finally gave up the fight and agreed to get rid of their controversial “Huron” logo once and for all. Lietz, I should add, will be joined in the studio by local historian Matt Siegfried, who will be […]

  3. […] came to pass that the EMU administration, a few days ago, finally gave up the fight and agreed to get rid of their controversial “Huron” logo once and for all. Lietz will be joined in the studio by local historian Matt Siegfried, who will be sharing the […]

  4. […] came to pass that the EMU administration, a few days ago, finally gave up the fight and agreed to get rid of their controversial “Huron” logo once and for all. Lietz will be joined in the studio by local historian Matt Siegfried, who will be sharing the […]

  5. […] who told us how it came to pass, a few days ago, that EMU administrators gave up their quest to bring back the controversial “Huron” logo. Lietz [seen below] was joined in the studio by local historian Matt Siegfried, who shared the […]

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