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updated: 5/1/2018 5:44 PM

Decades of debate over Native American nicknames

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  • The University of Illinois retired its Chief Illiniwek mascot in 2007 after decades of debate over whether it was demeaning to Native Americans.

    The University of Illinois retired its Chief Illiniwek mascot in 2007 after decades of debate over whether it was demeaning to Native Americans.
    AP File Photo

 
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Maine West High School's decision to eliminate its Native American "Warrior" mascot isn't the first time a suburban high school, and some Midwestern universities, have dealt with controversy surrounding its team name and imagery. Here's a look at some other instances and their outcomes:

• Naperville Central High School ended a 54-year run as the Redskins in 1992 when Naperville Unit District 203 leaders voted to drop the nickname in response to complaints it was offensive. Students and faculty later chose Redhawks as the replacement.

• After months of heated debate and a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Native American Bar Association, the Huntley Community School District 158 board voted unanimously in February 2002 to eliminate Redskins as the team name at Huntley High School. Students later voted to rename their teams the Red Raiders.

• From the mid-60s until 2004, Lemont High School teams were known as the "Injuns," a term viewed as a racial slur by many. A community vote later chose Titans as a replacement. But before that became official, newly elected school board members who'd made the mascot a campaign issue voted to rename the school's teams the Indians.

• After more than 50 years as the Indians, Aptakisic Junior High in Buffalo Grove announced in 2004 it was changing its nickname to Eagles in an effort to increase cultural sensitivity and boost school spirit.

• In October 2000, Niles West High School in Skokie announced it was dropping its Indians nickname and imagery in favor of the Wolves.

• Bucking the trend, Morris High School -- about 25 miles southwest of Naperville in Grundy County -- has kept its Redskins nickname and mascot without any serious calls from either inside or outside the community for a change.

• After more than two decades of controversy, the University of Illinois in 2007 retired the Chief Illiniwek mascot that had been a prominent presence at athletic events since the 1920s. The university has retained its Fighting Illini nickname.

• In a case with some similarities to Maine West, Marquette University in Milwaukee dropped its Warriors nickname and the associated American Indian imagery, declaring it had been disrespectful. The nickname was changed to Golden Eagles, then briefly the Gold in 2004, until a backlash restored the Golden Eagles moniker.

• After deeming Redskins an inappropriate name for an institution of higher learning, and at the urging of the Miami tribe, Miami (Ohio) University dumped the nickname. The university later chose Redhawks as its new nickname.

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