MHS mascot group to discuss honoring Prentup

By The Mercury

The Manhattan High School mascot committee Thursday will begin discussing a way to name a district building and a scholarship for former MHS coach Frank Prentup.

The committee meets 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Robinson Education Center, 2031 Poyntz Ave. The meeting is expected to last until 6:30 p.m.

The 15-member mascot committee — a panel formed to address issues surrounding MHS teams’ use of the Indian mascot, a Native American chieftain image and the culture created from them — met for an initial introductory session on March 29.

The committee is charged with addressing four issues surrounding the MHS mascot. The committee’s facilitator, Narmin Koenig, said the group will address the tasks separately.

The first task is to “find a portion of/or an entire facility to name for Frank Prentup along with a scholarship.”

During the scholarship portion of the meeting, committee members are expected to discuss establishing the criteria for the scholarship, its duration, qualification and eligibility requirements, and who determines the winner.

Here are the other three tasks:

• Developing a teaching program and plan that educates students, faculty and community members about Native American history, religion and culture.

• Exploring the creation of an additional mascot for students to “rally around” that is distinct from the Indian name and image. This would be similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs have done with KC Wolf.

• Establishing what the true costs would be and what the timeline would look like if the Indian name and image were retired.

Prentup, who was nicknamed “Chief,” was a former MHS coach and a descendant of the Tuscarora tribe. The MHS Indians team name was chosen to honor him, according to the school district. Prentup left MHS in 1940 and became a baseball coach for the University of Colorado, where he coached for 24 seasons. In 2015, the university inducted Prentup into its athletic hall of fame. The university also named its baseball complex, which is now its soccer complex, in his honor. The use of Indians and a symbol of a chieftain have been a contentious issue from time to time over the years in the Manhattan community.

Advocates to change the team name and image argued it is offensive and consider it cultural appropriation. They have also suggested finding a new way to honor Prentup, such as naming MHS’s west campus after him, instead of using the Indian mascot.

Advocates for keeping the name and image argued the image honors Native American culture, including Prentup.

Last year Prentup’s son, Duke, asked the school district to keep the Indian mascot and image in honor of his father.

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