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Group drops legal threats over Warroad Warriors logo

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Group drops legal threats over Warroad Warriors logo
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Residents from Warroad, Minn., have spoken and an organization threatening to sue its school district over the use of an American Indian logo, the Warriors, has listened.

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The National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media rescinded an Aug. 15 letter it sent to Warroad Public Schools threatening legal action if the district does not begin transitioning away from the logo.

“My family and my parents taught me a long time ago that if you made a mistake, own up to it and apologize,” said David Glass, chairman of the group.

The letter called use of the logo, which features an American Indian head, a violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and said legal action would be taken if the district did not respond to the coalition within 30 days.

Coalition members invited Henry Boucha, a former NHL player and U.S. Olympian who is an Ojibwe from Warroad, to meet Monday with its board of directors in Minneapolis and present the history behind the town and the logo.

“When we explained the whole history to the board, they immediately felt that they made a mistake and didn’t realize how rich the culture and traditions were in the Warroad area,” Boucha said.

Public support

Following the letter’s arrival in Warroad, Boucha said he took to social media to garner support for the logo.

The move inspired others to follow suit and led to the creation of a “Save the Warroad Logo,” which received nearly 2,300 likes in two days.

District Superintendent Craig Oftedahl said he was happy to hear the news of the decision.

“Our community has spoken very loud and clear of their support for the Warrior logo and our team name,” he said.

The district had received no communication from the coalition before the Aug. 15 letter, Oftedahl said.

In each program for school events, Oftedahl said a paragraph is included noting the school’s American Indian education department, its parent committee and the community’s support for the logo and team name.

The town’s name comes from the war trail or “war road” the Ojibwe people traveled on to battle the Sioux over the course of 100 years, according to Boucha. He says the American Indian community also came together to design the logo.

‘Win-win’ outcome

In addition to apologizing to the community, the coalition asked Boucha to serve on its board of directors — a position Boucha said he’s accepted.

He plans to work with the board to ensure incorrect assumptions about logos and mascots aren’t made in the future.

“If we’re going to go after somebody, we need to do a better job of investigating the situation in its entirety before making quick decisions,” Boucha said. 

Both Glass and Boucha call the outcome of this situation a “win-win” one for both groups.

In its official statement to the school district, the coalition noted Warroad respects and supports its efforts to “educate and eradicate harmful mascots and logos that do irreparable harm.”

Glass said coalition members will be visiting Warroad later on this year and participating in traditional prayer and pipe ceremonies.

“We look forward to an opportunity to continue educating people and wearing those logos and wearing the colors with pride and certainly honoring the people and traditions of this part of the world,” Oftedahl said.

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Brandi Jewett
Brandi Jewett is an enterprise reporter for the Grand Forks Herald with beats focusing on northwest Minnesota, unmanned aircraft systems and East Grand Forks city government. Other positions she has held at the Herald include Grand Forks city government reporter, general assigment reporter and news intern. A native of Valley City, N.D., 24 years worth of winters haven't scared her out of the state yet. Follow her work at www.grandforksherald.com and on Twitter and Instagram: @brandijewett. Send tips and story ideas to bjewett@gfherald.com. 
(701) 780-1108
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