Petoskey schools ditch spear logo, keep Native American head

Sep 14, 2017

The Petoskey school district has stepped into the debate over Native-American logos in sports.

Parents at Petoskey High School are upset after a spear logo was removed from the football team’s helmets this year. A new “image policy” for the school only allows the use of the letter “P” and a profile of a Native-American man with two feathers in his hair.

The policy was written by a committee that included one member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. The committee says the Native-American profile logo was chosen “because of its positive depiction of the cultural importance of Native Americans in our local area.”

Superintendent John Scholten says the policy was necessary because many different logos had been adopted over the years.

“We saw logos and images changing without any input or oversight from the school board or the administrations,” says Scholten.

Scholten says the Native-American profile logo was designed by Native-American students in the 1990s, but it might also be removed someday.

“There are people in our community that are not in favor of it, but we have not had a stance coming from the tribe that says specifically, from their government ... one way or another,” says Scholten.

Scholten says the new image policy provides a process for approving new images or getting rid of old ones.

Some parents have organized on social media to protest the removal of the spear, saying the spear is part of the team’s tradition.

Brian Kay is a parent who volunteers with the football team. In 2015, he created a Facebook page called “We Kept ‘Fighting’ On Our Field” in response to the school’s decision to remove the word “fighting” from the phrase “Home of the Fighting Northmen” on the football stadium. The word “fighting” was eventually repainted on the stadium, although its does not appear on a new stadium that opened this year.

Kay says he’s fine with the spear logo.

“I think if it’s done with respect of the people, I don’t personally see a problem,” says Kay. “But if it’s done with disrespect of the history and disrespect of the people, then they need to go. That I agree with.”

Kay says football players at Petoskey High have been wearing T-shirts with the spear logo to protest the school board's decision.