They are the Indians, and unabashedly so. The small farming community of Mishicot says it’s not going to drop the “Indians” nickname for its high school, and have told the state Department of Public Instruction they will keep the logo of an Indian chief in full headdress.
Mishicot is a pretty little town, just north of Two Rivers and just west of Lake Michigan in Manitowoc County. The town has the standard white churches and rising steeples; a tidy main street; a covered bridge; and one of the largest golf resorts in the state, Fox Hills – 45 holes in total, including a championship-caliber 18-hole course.
There are about a dozen school districts in the state that have some sort of Indian nickname or logo who have not bowed to pressure from the politicians in Madison to abandon the name or logo. A few weeks ago, the guv signed a law making the state Superintendent of Public Instruction the ultimate arbiter of Indian nicknames and mascots, with power to ban Indian nicknames and logos.
Colleen Timm has been the principal and administrator of the Mishicot School District for the past six years, and says she has yet to hear a single complaint about their nickname or logo. Perhaps it’s because the district has written permission from the Hannahville Potawatomi to use the Indian nickname and logo.
Indian roots go deep in the small village of about 15 hundred people. A fellow by the name of Daniel Smith ran a sawmill there in the 1840’s, and as more folks began to settle in the area and hotels sprang up to serve people going to the trading post there, Smith named the settlement “Mishicot”, after his friend, Abraham Mishicot, leader of the local Potawatomi tribe.
I guess Smith figured “Mishicot” was a better name for his settlement than “Smithville”.
As is usually the case, there’s difference of opinion about what the Indian word “Mishicot” translates to. Some scholars say it means “turtle”; some say it means “covered with clouds”; but it seems the most reliable translation of the Chief’s name is “hairy legs”, according to Mishicot’s official website.
The high school athletic teams wear bright orange with the words “Mishicot Indians” on their uniforms, and their logo is a very stylized and updated facial rendering of a modern Indian in full headdress. The school newspaper is the “Indian Headline”.
There’s nothing derogatory or demeaning about any of it. It’s a reflection of the town’s heritage and a tribute to the person the town was named for. More importantly, the keepers of that heritage, the local Indians, agree – and have made their feelings known, in writing, to the school district.
Let’s see if the political and administrative forces in Madison have enough sense to keep their hands off this one.