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Panel: Indians are people, not mascots

Barbara Munson, chairperson of the Wisconsin Indian Logo Taskforce, speaks during Wednesday’s forum at Prescott High School. Sitting next to her is Tom Sobieski, former educator from the Berlin School District. (Herald photo by Jason Schulte)4 / 4

PRESCOTT--It’s been an issue ongoing for the last 15 years, likely even longer: The use of Indian logos for sports teams.

The topic was brought to a local level Wednesday in Prescott as an educational forum was held at the Freedom Park Learning Center.

Jeff Ryan, history teacher at Prescott High School, explained American Indian studies have been embraced at Prescott for years, for which he thanked the school board, including former Superintendent Carroll Lehman and current Superintendent Roger Hulne.

“Wisconsin has the largest American Indian population east of the Mississippi River,” Ryan said, emphasizing the point even more.

Three guest speakers, who live in Wisconsin, then told of their experiences about the impact of Indian logos in their area.

Barbara Munson, chairperson of the Wisconsin Indian Logo Taskforce, and a member of the Oneida tribe, explained she became involved because of her daughter. When her family moved to Mosinee, where a team nickname was the Indians, she hoped it wouldn’t affect her children, but it did.

“And that started me on the road to activism,” she said.

The other two speakers, Marsha Beggs Brown and Tom Sobieski, former teachers with the Kewaunee and Berlin school districts who, after retiring, did research and found out about the impacts of Indian logos and filed complaints with the state asking the school districts to change their logos. While Brown’s efforts were successful as Kewaunee changed from Indians to the Storm, Berlin is still the Indians.

Sobieski told the story when the state Department of Public Instruction first requested Berlin to change their logo, a friend of his on the school board said, “We’re not going to change, who is it hurting?”

“People in Berlin haven’t gotten used to the idea yet,” Sobieski said. “But I’ve not given up, I never will…This is an issue of respect and empathy.”

For more please read the Oct. 30 print version of the Herald. 

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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