Battle over the Menomonee Falls High School mascot continues

NOW: Battle over the Menomonee Falls High School mascot continues

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The battle over the Menomonee Falls High School mascot has a community divided.

The school board held another discussion Monday, Nov. 25, before next month's vote.

Before the board meeting, there were two rallies going on, both with differing views. Parents and students held signs outside demanding the high school keep their Indians name, while Menominee tribal members stood inside the library demanding the opposite.

The school board will have more arguments to think about before making a decision about the mascot.

The rally brought dozens of parents and students who want to keep the mascot, some who say the Indians name is part of the school spirit, it's not meant to be offensive, and changing it would be a waste of money. 

"Our kids are so proud of being Indians, whether they're junior Indians, the varsity football teams, it doesn't matter," said rally organizer Laurie Vande Zande. "I've coached them all, and we are so proud to be Indians."

"Your budget is tens of millions of dollars, so this change will hardly make a change in your pocket. If that's so, then why can't my music programs afford more than a few new music sheets each year?"

While the rally was ongoing, Menominee tribal members talked about their history as the original people of the Menomonee Falls area. Tribal members say the mascot is not a proper representation of their culture.

"We're doctors, we're attorneys, we're everything that anyone else is, but the logos give a different impression to the children and it comes off that we're savages," said Gary Besaw of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin Legislature. "This is not a conversation about whether all Native Americans feel disrespected. Even our speaker tonight acknowledged that it's a question of whether or not some do, and if they do then our nickname is not welcoming to all."

During the meeting, more than two dozen people spoke in front of the school board. Some say the months-long debate is starting to divide the entire community.

Board members say changing the mascot is estimated to cost $20,000. The debate is not over yet. The board is expected to vote on this issue at their next board meeting on Dec. 9.

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