FULTON, MI – The Native American Heritage Fund (NAHF) Board selected projects in six Michigan communities as recipients of the fund’s 2022 grants, at the Board’s June meeting. From a pool of 11 applicants, the NAHF board chose to award grants totaling nearly $480,000 in support of community projects, academic programming updates, mascot changeovers and other projects that honor Native American culture and history.
Priority was given to at least partially funding the important work of reducing the number of inappropriate mascots among Michigan public schools, which is often costly for schools that need to update facilities, uniforms and logos.
“If we fund the decommissioning of racist mascot imagery now, we will have more money in the future for proactive program and curriculum programming,” said NAHF Chairperson Jamie Stuck, who is also the Tribal Council Chairperson for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.
The NAHF urges schools to consult not only students, but local tribes in the reconsideration of a school mascot, and specifically funds schools that have identified the new branding and are prepared and approved internally to make the switch.
The 2022 NAHF grants include:
- Chippewa Hills School District – $52,371 to rebrand the current mascot from “Warriors” to “Golden Knights”
- Hartford Public Schools – $132,249 to rebrand the current mascot from “Indians” to “Huskies,” and implement a new curriculum to help build meaningful connections with students
- Lansing School District – $87,500 to rebrand the current mascot from the “Big Reds” to a new culturally appropriate mascot and logo
- Michigan College Access Network – $55,000 to continue funding the “College Completion Corps,” a program that places completion coaches at three tribal colleges: Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College and Bay Mills Community College for the upcoming academic year
- Saranac Community Schools – $139,318 to rebrand the current mascot to “Red Hawks” before the upcoming academic year
- Western Michigan University’s Native American Affairs Council – $12,295 to host and live stream “A Conversation with Dallas Goldtooth” of the Mdewakanton Dakota
The awards will be distributed and shared with the public at the NAHF Grant Award ceremony at FireKeepers Casino Hotel on August 19th at noon.
The NAHF Board is composed of: Chairperson Jamie Stuck (NHBP Tribal Council Chairperson); Vice Chairperson Dorie Rios (NHBP Tribal Council Vice Chairperson); Secretary Elizabeth Kinnart (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Citizen); Treasurer Melissa Kiesewetter (Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights Tribal Liaison/Native American Specialist); and Board Member Kimberly Vargo (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians).