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Okemos Schools Drops 'Chiefs' Mascot

high school building
Okemos Public Schools
The Okemos Board of Education has voted unanimously to eliminate its "Chiefs" mascot. The phase out is expected to be complete in 2023.

The Okemos Board of Education has voted to eliminate the district’s mascot, the “Chiefs.” 

The decision caps a more than 30-year process of reviewing and ultimately removing the Chiefs name and image.   


In 2011, the district phased out the silhouetted image of a Native American in a headdress, and in 2013 Okemos adopted a logo consisting of the letter “O” and the word “Chiefs.” 


But it was the emergence of a new national dialogue on systemic racism – spurred by the killing of George Floyd one year ago -- that prompted Okemos to form a committee to consider abolishing the Chiefs mascot.


Monday’s vote to do just that was unanimous. 


“I think it’s going to be a good thing for our community, for everyone,” says Okemos school board member Andrew Phelps.  “Mascots should be something that brings everyone together.  Clearly, that’s not happening.  So let’s figure out something to do to make sure we all move forward together.”


The district will review proposals for a new mascot. 


The transition is expected to be complete by the fall of 2023. 


Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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