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Grants power removal of offensive Native American imagery in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo

This May 5, 2018 photo shows the Fountain of the Pioneers in Bronson Park in Kalamazoo, Mich. (Mark Bugnaski/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group via AP)

Costs to remove Kalamazoo's Fountain of the Pioneers and the stained glass window medallion at Battle Creek's city hall will be covered by grants from the Native American Heritage Fund Board.

Created with a mission to promote positive relationships between schools or governments nd Michigan’s federally recognized Native American tribes, the board is providing:

  • $334,691 to Belding Area Schools, to assist in replacing equipment, apparel and signage following the change of the school's mascot from Redskins to Black Knights.
  • $3,377 to assist with removing and replacing a stained glass medallion at the Battle Creek City Hall that depicts what's believed to be a white settler clubbing a Native American; and
  • $76,765 for the removal of the Fountain of the Pioneers and site improvements at Bronson Park.

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi said the fund is intended to "replace or revise mascots and imagery" deemed offensive or conveying inaccurate representations of Native Americans. The board, including members from several Native American groups and representatives of the state of Michigan, was created in 2016 as part of the Tribal-State Gaming Compact. The fund for the grants was established using a portion of the state revenue sharing payments to the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi.

The grants represent the first time the board has made awards this year. Six other applications are still under consideration.

All of the grants will be approved for disbursement next month.

Board members are: 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); Board Member: Kimberly Vargo (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Vice Chairperson).

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