Girls lobby to change 'Redmen' school nickname in Sisseton

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SISSETON, S.D. (AP) — A group of high school girls basketball players on the Lake Traverse Reservation in the Dakotas is lobbying the Sisseton School District to change its "Redmen" nickname.

The girls are student athletes at Tiospa Zina Tribal School in Agency Village, but they all previously attended Sisseton High School and played basketball there. They believe the nickname and some activities associated with it mock American Indian culture, said LeeAnn Eastman, the mother of two of the girls.

"Some of the treatment they got there, they didn't like it," she told The American News ( ). "So they decided that we're going to come back to Tiospa Zina."

About half of Sisseton's population is white and about half is Native American, according to the 2010 census.

Sisseton School Superintendent Stephen Schulte said there is support for keeping the nickname.

"We don't have a mascot that runs up and down the sidelines, we have a logo and a name," he said.

The girls — some of whose grandparents unsuccessfully opposed the nickname in the 1990s — hosted an anti-nickname rally this week. They hope to hold another event with the help of a larger mascot protest group, such as the American Indian Movement.

Schulte said the girls are not going through the proper process to try to get the nickname changed.

"They have an opportunity to come to school board and make suggestions, and the board can act on that," he said. "But at this point in time ... they haven't done that."

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