WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Wyoming Godfrey-Lee High School’s former mascot is a relic of a bygone era as school leaders received a grant Monday from a Native American tribe that will aid in their name change.
The Rebel name has been around in one form or another since 1934. It was featured throughout Lee High School with mascots, murals, pennants and uniforms.
But with a unanimous decision in December, the Godfrey-Lee school board decided the time had come to discard a mascot that really had no connection to the urban school district outside of a random street name. The decision was not without detractors.
Regardless, the school has worked to replace the old motifs with the new theme: the Lee High School Legends.
It is a costly process, so school officials were delighted when Michigan’s Native American Heritage Fund decided to give the district $98,000 to assist with the rebranding. The cash will cover about half of the total cost, according to district officials.
“This will go a long way to help us replace things like uniforms and some of the imagery in the schools,” Eric Mockerman, the Godfrey-Lee school board president, said.
At a ceremony at the FireKeepers Casino and Hotel near Battle Creek Monday, Heritage Fund leadership said even though the rebel mascot is not directly related to Native Americans, the idea of replacing it is the same in making sure that imagery is inclusive.
“We wanted to do the right thing to encourage other school districts to do the same thing and make it right with our Native American communities and other communities when it comes to imagery and representation as far as culture, heritage and values,” said Jamie Struck, tribal council chair for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi. “Hopefully this sends a message to the rest of the school districts in the state of Michigan that this is the right thing to do.”
While the new team name will be the Lee Legends, the process of picking a new mascot is still underway. The school expects an announcement by the start of the new year.