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Paw Paw dropping "Redskins" nickname

Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio

The Paw Paw school district is dropping a controversial nickname.

The southwest Michigan district’s school board voted six to one this week to drop its “Redskins” nickname and mascot. 

The district has been under pressure for several years to make the change.  In 2017, the school board voted four to three to keep the controversial nickname.

The American Civil Liberties Union claims using the name Redskins created a  "racially hostile environment" for Native American students at Paw Paw's high school.

“It has become clear that the controversy surrounding the Redskin name and imagery is an impediment to achieving our district goals,” says Paw Paw Board of Education President Brent NcNitt, “The best path is to respectfully retire the Redskin name and imagery with honor.”

Superintendent Rick Reo says he believes the district originally chose Redskins to "celebrate the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans." But he says times have changed.

“Individuals on both sides of this issue agree that it has people in the community divided, and we must come together in our support for all students to be able to best meet our goals,” says Reo.

In a written statement, the district superintendent says the process to select a new school nickname will begin in the coming days and weeks and will include meetings with student groups.

A steering committee is expected to make a recommendation by July. 

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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