Saugatuck Public Schools will no longer use the nickname “Indians,” after an 11-year saga culminated into the changing of the school system’s mascot over concerns of racial insensitivity.
According to Tuesday reports, the school will now use the nickname “Trailblazers,” following the trend of professional and other sports teams changing their nicknames from anything related to Native American culture.
The final straw for Saugatuck Public Schools came last summer, when racial strife permeated the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The school first met about changing the school’s nickname in 2009.
But finally, after 11 years, it commissioned a committee of students and community members to come up with a new nickname.
“The Saugatuck Public Schools’ board of education and administration strive to promote a learning culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the school system said in a July statement. “Recent national events and tragedies remind the board that work remains to be done in creating an educational culture in our schools that rejects racism, discrimination and harassment in all its forms.”
“In this spirit of continual improvement for all students in the district, the board has determined that it is time to re-examine the use of our current team name and mascot,” the statement continued.
After more than seven months and more than 90 nickname recommendations, the school settled on “Trailblazers.”
“Trailblazers offers much more depth than the other finalists, and encompasses the entire community, including students who find their identity in varying aspirations, alumni who have created their own life path, small business owners, artists, and anyone else that has blazed their own trail,” the Saugatuck Mascot Development Committee reportedly said in a statement.
The school system’s Superintendent Tim Travis applauded the nickname change.
“This is a very positive day for the district,” Travis reportedly. “I applaud the board for embarking on this journey that ultimately fosters a school culture conducive to learning that values racial equity, diversity and the inclusion of all students. Trailblazers captures the district goal of students finding their unique educational path as well as leading the way to a better future for others.”
Last summer, the Washington, D.C.’s professional football team, formerly called the “Redskins,” dropped their nickname completely. They have not rebranded, and now simply go by The Washington Football Team.
Some remaining professional sports holdouts that have drawn the ire of social justice critics include two Major League Baseball teams: the Cleveland Indians, and the Atlanta Braves.
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