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Lane community divided over Indian tradition

The+Warrior+removed+Native+American+imagery+from+its+logo+in+October%2C+which+led+to+dozens+of+comments+from+alumni+on+lanewarrior.com+and+several+emails+to+feedback%40lanewarrior.com.
The Warrior removed Native American imagery from its logo in October, which led to dozens of comments from alumni on lanewarrior.com and several emails to feedback@lanewarrior.com.

The Warrior removed Native American imagery from its logo in October, which led to dozens of comments from alumni on lanewarrior.com and several emails to [email protected]

James Coyne

James Coyne

The Warrior removed Native American imagery from its logo in October, which led to dozens of comments from alumni on lanewarrior.com and several emails to [email protected]

By Matt Conley, Reporter

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The students at Lane are conflicted. Preparing their best arguments, students took to their respective class Facebook pages to discuss the school’s usage of the Indian head as its school symbol.

The controversy began when The Warrior changed a part of its title page. The newspaper used to feature Native American logos inside of the letter “O” in the “Warrior” header on Page 1 and in the staff box on Page 2, but the editors of the paper chose to remove these images, as they felt they were culturally insensitive.

Since then the debate around the issue has continued to grow. The Warrior’s logo change was the subject of a story published by DNAInfo Nov. 2, and was a featured topic on a local radio station. Many are infuriated that anybody would even start a conversation about removing such a traditional symbol, but others think that it is a necessary measure.

As soon as the logo was changed, many alumni contacted The Warrior’s feedback email address to voice their thoughts on the controversial topic.

Those who support changing the logo believe that its usage could be offensive to Native Americans and should be changed to be more inclusive. Irena Sromek, the editor of The Warrior in 1993, said that “While I never felt the Lane Indian was a negative image in any way, it’s still incorrect to use a Native American as the logo.”

Others say that this move is disrespecting a long held Lane Tech tradition. Many alumni have voiced their dissatisfaction with The Warrior’s recent decision.

“I feel the Lane Indian is a positive image and respectfully portrayed and honored Native American life,” said Harold Stratton, who identified himself as a Lane alum, class of 1980. “It isn’t the comical or horrific use of the Cleveland Indians or that of various sports teams,” he said.

Other feedback the Warrior received attacked what critics call the “politically correct culture.” Some opposed to the logo change said that always being afraid to offend anybody will only add more problems to our everyday lives, and divide everyone by creating cultural barriers.

Many alumni seemed to feel betrayed.

“The Lane Tech Indian is part of who we are as Laneites. I am so disappointed that you are deciding to go to your Politically Correct ideologies instead of following tradition,” said Neil Hernandez, who identified himself as a graduate of the class of 1988.

Those opposed to the change also feel that the Indian logo is being unfairly criticized, and they think it’s hypocritical to get up-in-arms over some cultural logos and not others.

“The Blackhawks use an Indian for their logo. Fremd High School has a Viking. Notre Dame has a leprechaun,” said Gail Grabinski, who identified herself as a graduate of the class of 1983.

The reason this issue has sparked so much controversy is not only because of the change in the newspaper, it is the implications this could have for the entire school. When you walk the halls of Lane right now you’ll find a vibrant array of Native American symbols and imagery, including historic murals scattered throughout the school, the “Shooting the Stars” statue in the Memorial Garden at the heart of the school, and even a totem pole on the front lawn of Addison. Beyond that there are many trophies and plaques featuring the Indian logo, as well as other assorted artwork throughout the school.

Some say that this could have a domino effect, and end up completely erasing a culture that is precious to many Lane students, faculty, and alumni.

“It’s a Lane Tech tradition,” said Aiden Drake, Div. 850. “[The Indian] shows Lane pride and diversity.”

Drake is one of many at Lane worried this new change could extend beyond the newspaper and into the rest of the school. Most Lane sports — including lacrosse, a sport Drake intends to play this spring — use an Indian logo or other symbols from Native American culture. People like Aiden are concerned that those who encouraged the Indian change in the paper will come for school sports next.

“It kinda sucks. People always find something offensive about everything,” said Drake. “There are offensive uses of an Indian logo, but for the life of me I can’t see how Lane has been anything but respectful.”

Chloe Stokes, Div. 862, is undecided on the issue. Stokes said she is half Native American, with Seneca and Cherokee ancestry.

“Obviously because I’m Native American I find it very dehumanizing to have my people be considered a mascot or a costume,” said Stokes. “However I feel like as long as we don’t have people dressing up in headdresses and doing redface to mock or imitate real ‘Indians,’ it’s pretty harmless, and mostly pointless to change the mascot.”

Many students feel the issue is over thought, and the best course of action is to just drop it.

“Just leave the damn Indian alone,” said one student who preferred to remain anonymous.

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12 Comments

12 Responses to “Lane community divided over Indian tradition”

  1. Christopher Negron on December 23rd, 2016 11:49 pm

    I am a proud graduate of the class of 1999 and the use of the Indian logo isn’t and shouldn’t be offensive to anyone!! The use of the Lane Indian logo is a symbol of strength, courage and determination that embodied every student that has ever walked those halls and sung the school song!! It is actually a unifying symbol that doesn’t divide or offend but brings together countless races, colors, backgrounds, genders and traditions and forms a solid student body that proves that we can all be as one!! It’s sad to see so many that are In charge of big decisions involving Lane Tech acting so scared and childish about a logo!! It has and will always be a symbol of pride!!!! This world has become so weak and timid that it will be impossible to try to please everyone at the same time, so just get over it and be strong!! Just like that Lane Indian logo!! Chin up and proud of what that logo is and represents!! A people that united, can accomplish anything!!!

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  2. Keith Bauman on December 27th, 2016 10:09 pm

    Class of 82. I guess I am far removed but have always been proud of Lane and our tradition. The Indian has been a symbol of our tradition. Would be a shame to loose that…

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  3. Melinda Kaseska on December 28th, 2016 12:20 am

    Leave it alone. Lane has only been respectful.
    Melinda -Class of 1979

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  4. David MacLennan on December 28th, 2016 5:35 am

    class of 1990.
    i am not happy with removing the indian.
    what will you call the school teams now?
    the tampons ?

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  5. Simon Cygielski (1987) on December 28th, 2016 7:37 am

    I should probably be the last person to speak on any subject related to school spirit, having been a less than enthusiastic participant in Lane’s student life back in the mid-1980s. However, I think that the use of Native American imagery really revolves around relatedness and respect. The questions to ask are “Is the image being used in a way that relates to Indian heritage?” and “Is it being used in a respectful manner?”
    The first question is hard to answer fully – Lane, as all of the United States, is located on formerly Indian lands, so there is some relationship, though it’s really not a direct one. As far as I’m aware, there is no further connection between Native American heritage and the school, though I haven’t researched the subject, so I may be corrected on this point. In any case, the relationship is as solid as any other human image used by other schools, be it Scandinavian or Irish.
    As to the second point, I have not seen the images being used in a disrespectful manner, and unlike for instance the Cleveland Indians’ mascot, in themselves they are quite respectfully rendered. Unless something has changed since my graduation, I think the second condition I mentioned has largely been satisfied.
    We’re not going to bring back a thriving Native American civilization to Chicago. There is no reason to remove a reminder of the area’s past from the school’s visual identity, as long as its use remains respectful and no recognized Native American group explicitly objects to its use.

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  6. Bill Wegner on December 28th, 2016 10:46 am

    The Lane Tech Indian is a symbol synonymous with Chicago and the country. So many of the accolades the school has earned over the years were as the Lane Tech Indians . Our scholars,sports stars even actors were never embarrassed to tell everyone what a Great High School they graduated from. They were proud and still are of the school they once called home for 4 of their most engaging years of their life. I was div. 783 class of 72 and my Indian Head made in wood shop still hangs in my front foyer and my hot plate made in Mr. Wos electric shop still works 45 years later. I’m proud to be an Indian and so should all others. Stop with the politically correct stuff already. Just because they jump off the bridge and into the water doesn’t mean we have to. Show some backbone and some Indian Pride!

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  7. Neil Wren "62 on December 28th, 2016 5:59 pm

    I am a proud graduate, class of June 1962 and wonder where all this ado originated. Was Lane contacted by representatives of Native American tribes or councils asking that changes be made or considered? I think not and that it is an overly sensitive, self appointed politically correctness enforcer. They have proven to be policing every aspect of our lives lately because they are offended so easily. Too bad, just get over it. There is no need to erase or obliterate our long standing tradition at Lane. How about re instituting the “no walking or playing on the campus lawns” rule. Seeing students sitting, playing and walking on the grass offends me. What next? Males only?

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  8. Charles Kiefer on December 28th, 2016 8:43 pm

    The Lane Indian symbol elevates Native American people, as reflected in the school motto: “Shoot for the Stars”, reflected in the statue in the Memorial Garden, as well as Lane’s highest honor, the Wabeno Award. I studied Anthropology in College, so I understand cultural sensitivity intellectually and emotionally. Removing this symbol is mistaken cultural sensitivity – remember it elevates these cultures. It does not denigrate them. Keep the Indian symbol as a point of pride.

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  9. Joel Goldberg on January 1st, 2017 11:00 am

    We are still deep into the age of political correctness. To debate this Indian mascot thing is just plain ignorant. There is nothing offensive about using the Lane Indian as a proud symbol, “shooting for the stars” , of those who have, and will attend a great school. So many of the things that made Lane Tech great have changed, and most, not for the better. I have supported the school for over 50 years (class of 1967) but am having second thoughts.

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  10. John Stoesser on January 5th, 2017 6:39 pm

    Class of 1968 – I’m sorry to even see this discussion. The Indian was never a mascot while I attended, but a symbol. I am immensely proud of my time at Lane, and believe I received an education far beyond what was commonly available elsewhere then, and now. The entire lore and culture was one of excellence, achieving potential, and responsibility. To me, the Indian symbolized all of these things.

    We need more institutions that continue to foster critical thinking, inspire imagination and prepare young people to become contributing members of society. Let us not allow the standards of this venerable school, producer of so many thousands of solid citizens for almost a century, be eroded by political correctness.

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  11. Mary anon on February 1st, 2017 9:31 pm

    I was class of ’02. I can see both sides of the argument here. Someone wrote above that we need more institutions that duster critical thinking–have we not noticed that most everyone supporting keeping the mascot and dismissing this as all “politically correctedness,” are all white and male? I want to hear how does the native American feel about this? The comments above are doing nothing but telling us how we should feel, and how they should feel, but really, what are their thoughts?
    My opinion is to change the mascot but keep the artwork and other cultural aspects alive and on campus of we want to really honor them.

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  12. Matthew H. Pecoraro on March 9th, 2017 6:38 pm

    This, once great school already went “politically correct” a while ago. After the school changed it’s name and its mission to “college prep” like every other high school in the area, we lost our soul! Most of my friends work in the printing industry and in other trades such as automotive, machining, carpentry, architecture, etc. They all got their start in the shops at Lane and they are all happy in their careers of choice. My father, who is in his 80’s went to Lane, and Indian heritage was studied and celebrated between the periods of games or during football game halftime. During summer breaks, there would be outings to Indian reservations to learn of Indian culture… none of this is done anymore. Seeing as we have already become just another “college prep” school and failed in our duty to educate those who seek technical education, who cares if we give in again and give up the Indian tradition… Lets just call ourselves “The New Americans.”

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Lane community divided over Indian tradition