Wyandotte band allowed to be 'Chiefs' at Obama's inauguration parade
Wyandotte Schools Superintendent Patricia Cole said the torrent of support she got today from alumni, some native Americans and people across the country caused her to reverse a decision to cover up the Indian head logo on the sleeve of the Roosevelt High School band uniforms.
In late December she decided to answer the protests of Harvey Gunderson, a Wisconsin resident and president of Religious Americans Against Indian Nicknames and Logos, and have the band carry a new banner without the Marching Chiefs name, cover up the Indian head logo on the uniforms and change the name in inaugural program to Wyandotte Roosevelt High School Marching Band.
The Marching Chiefs moniker, a tribute to the Wyandotte Indian tribe which settled along the banks of the Detroit River in the early 1700s, has been used since the 1950s, and the people calling and e-mailing the school district today said that more than 50 years of tradition should not change.
“I consider it an honor to have the logo in the parade,” Bearskin said Thursday. “I give them my blessing, totally.
"I would be honored to have the Wyandotte Chiefs going down in the parade. I think it would be wonderful."
The Free Press quoted Gunderson: "When a band says that someone becomes a chief when they join the band, they're trivializing the actual role of the chief in American Indian nations. It just flies in the face of the spirit of what the whole inauguration is about."
In a letter to Gunderson, Bearskin said that only he and the chief of the Wyandotte tribe in Quebec can speak for the tribe. Bearskin wrote, "I speak to you personally--Mind your own business."
The Free Press reported that Superintendent Cole reversed the decision on Thursday.
The newspaper reported Friday that the school still plans to change the name of the band to the Wyandotte Roosevelt High School Marching Band. Cole said that the school is replacing the band's old banner, which bears the logo, with a much larger one that simply says "Wyandotte" to better publicize the community.
For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.