The U.S. Department of Education dismissed a Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) complaint regarding the use of Native Americans as school mascots last week.
According to the Department of Education, the MDCR did not provide sufficient evidence that any “racial discrimination has occurred or is occurring” as a result of the mascots.
The complaint, filed in February, argued that the use of Native American mascots, imagery and names in 35 schools was discriminatory to students of American Indian origin. The MCDR cited research regarding the negative academic impact of Native American mascots on Native American students to substantiate their claims.
However, a letter from Catherine D. Criswell, regional director of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, stated that the MDCR did not provide evidence that “any students or individuals ... have suffered specific harm because of the alleged discrimination at any of the named school districts.”
Representatives from MDCR, who received word that the complaint was being dismissed on Friday, said they were saddened by the decision, according to the Detroit Free Press.
The complaint, which listed K-12 schools only, suggested that Native American mascots marginalize the group’s history.
"Students in an American school who call themselves 'Redskins,' dress up like Indians, cheer using war chants, or wear uniforms emblazoned with cartoon Indians may not intend to disavow history, but it certainly suggests they don't know much about the Dawes Act, or the Indian Removal Act, or the Trail of Tears, or Wounded Knee, or Indian boarding schools," the complaint read.
The complaint was previously met with opposition from Michigan Republicans, according to the Associated Press. Republicans argued that the issue should be solved locally without federal help and that the department acted without having heard the views of local communities, the outlet notes.