Long defends Tecumseh’s Indian mascot at forum

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A forum on Native American imagery as school mascots was held at Adrian College on Tuesday, April 23, where Tecumseh local Eric Long was a member of the five-person panel for discussion.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights asking it to prohibit the use of American Indian mascots and imagery in Michigan schools. The complaint specifically named Tecumseh and Clinton high schools for their use of discriminating mascots.

Long spoke in front of approximately 50 people and gave his opinion on why he feels continuing use of American Indian mascots is ok in certain instances like Tecumseh as long as it is done respectfully.

“I wanted to listen as much as I wanted to talk,’ said Long of why he attended. “I wanted to hear from both sides.”

He spoke about how many schools throughout the country continue to use Indian mascots, including Native Americans.

“There’s over 400 schools that use the nickname the Indians,” he said. “The majority of which are in the Dakotas. There are also more than 200 Cardinals, not the bird, the religious figure.”

He said the point he tried to make was “where do we go? Do we just eliminate all mascots?

“Every nickname is going to offend someone,” said Long. “You can’t just take care of the situation with one big brush. You need to look at them individually.”

Fritz Detwiler, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy and Religion, Director Institute for Ethics at Adrian College who organized the event said he was pleased with how well the forum went.

“Our purpose was to increase understanding among those who are involved in or affected by the issue and I think that was clearly accomplished,’ he said. “I was glad that the panelists talked with each other and not to each other.”

Long agreed and said he was not attacked for his beliefs and felt his opinions were listened too.

“People were very respectful and the evening turned out to be a true exercise in what open civil discussion should be in a democracy,” said Detwiler. “It was disappointing that we were not able to secure a panelist from Clinton. We are looking forward to having more forums on controversial issues in the future.

“I’m extremely grateful to the panelists for the time and thoughtfulness they put into their contributions.”

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