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Change Warroad 'Warrior' mascot or be sued, coalition warns

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A Minneapolis-based coalition is threatening to take the Warroad school district to court if it doesn't stop using the "Warrior" name as its school mascot.

MPR News reports the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media warned it will sue the district in federal court if it does not announce it is making the name change within 30 days.

The Warroad Pioneer carried the letter from the coalition on its website. The letter noted the coalition was making the same demand to remove mascot names in three other school districts: the Lamar, Colorado "Savages," the Willpinit, Washington “Redskins” and the Sarasota, Florida “Indians.”

The coalition claims the use of an American Indian image is discriminatory and violates the U.S. Civil Rights act.

"We understand the inherited tradition of these names and mascots and the strong emotions they conjure," the letter states. "We believe that institutional racism is hard to change and we are asking you to begin that journey now. No indigenous sports mascot or name manufactured by and for non-indigenous people honors us, is welcomed by us, is celebrated without denigration, or is an accurate representation of our race, our spirituality and our heritage."

The newspaper reports the school board and the district had no immediate comment on the letter.

The Warriors mascot has gotten much exposure over the years, especially when emblazoned on a hockey jersey. Warroad has had such a legendary presence in Minnesota high school hockey that the town has nicknamed itself "Hockeytown, USA."

During the Winter Olympics last February, the New York Times published a story that called Warroad "Minnesota's hockey cradle." The feature noted the town of 1,781 had sent seven hockey players to the Olympics since 1956. Among the Warroad standouts are Gigi Marvin, 26, who won a second silver medal with the United States women's team; and T.J. Oshie, 27, a wing with the St. Louis Blues who skated in Sochi for the U.S. men's hockey team.

Despite protests, the owners of the Washington Redskins have refused to change the team name. On Friday, the Washington Post carried yet another story on the ongoing controversy about the nickname. Under pressure, the University of North Dakota dropped its "Fighting Sioux" moniker in 2012.

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