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School going with Redhawks

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- After more than 80 years, Southeast
Missouri State University will no longer use Indians as a nickname.

Years of debate over the use of the nickname and mascot ended
Wednesday when the board of regents voted unanimously to drop both
for the men's teams as well as the Otahkians nickname for the
women. The women's team name came from the legend of a Cherokee
woman named Otahki who died near Cape Girardeau on the Trail of
Tears forced march to the Oklahoma territory in the 1830s.

Supporters had argued that the nicknames showed pride in the
American Indian heritage of the region. But others found them
demeaning.

Glinda Ladd Seabaugh, president of the American Indian Center of
the Heartland in Cape Girardeau, said she thought Southeast had not
intended any harm, but that hanging onto Indian names was a type of
cultural racism.

"We are human beings," she said. "We are not mascots."

After a brief phasing out of the Indians, Southeast's teams will
be known as the Redhawks.

The change is expected to come in the spring semester of 2005.
Work to design a Redhawk logo already has begun.

Southeast has downplayed the Indians nickname for several years.
Athletics Director Don Kaverman said the university hasn't had a
student dress up in an Indian costume as a mascot since 1985. The
school doesn't put the nickname on its T-shirts or in publications.
The only visible reference is at Houck Stadium, where "Indians"
is painted in one end zone.

Kaverman said the change could help better promote the school,
its athletic programs and increase school spirit.

"We owe it to the current generation of students to establish
their own traditions," he said.

Last year, both the university's national alumni council and
student council recommended dropping the Indians/Otahkians
nicknames. In February, the board of the Booster Club agreed,
although narrowly.

An 18-member committee of faculty, staff, students, alumni and
boosters, appointed by President Ken Dobbins, then was charged to
look at whether the nicknames should be retired and consider
alternatives, said Ed Leoni, a professor who headed the group.

The university received more than 1,000 suggestions for
replacement nicknames.