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final project 

1.  Create a podcast episode script that includes who/what is being heard and what is being said


  • Background info

  • Student-generated writing

  • Audio from phone interviews

  • Answer to essential question

2.  An edited and finalized recording of a podcast episode

3.  A class-created multi-episode podcast series

more than a mascot

Florida State University. The Washington NFL franchise. Mukwonago High School. Marquette University. One of these things is not like the other. At one point, all four had American Indian nicknames and mascots. Florida State, Washington, and Mukwonago all still do. Marquette changed their mascot. But why? Why were these nicknames used in the first place? Who are and who were the people who are used as these mascots and nicknames? Why might there be a problem with this representation? What is their real story?


In this seminar, students will research these questions and more, learning an introduction to journalism and podcasting, and creating real world-ready products. Students will write episode scripts and record a podcast series that will be posted and shared on all major podcast platforms. Students will meet and interview experts in the field, preparing them for interactions with professionals across a range of careers.

essential question

How can knowledge of racist and stereotypical imagery and media help us to actively be anti-racist in the world today?

Mastery Standards

Inquiry Research

I can conduct short and intense inquiry research projects using multiple, authentic sources to defend ideas and connections with specific evidence.


I can strengthen my writing through planning, revision, and editing.

digital media & tech integration

I can make and use digital media to create and enhance communication through formal public presentations.

script & outline writing

I can write clear outlines for public speaking and/or planning a script for communication of any type.

proper grammar

I can use and demonstrate correct grammar in writing or speaking.

connections to the present

I can analyze significant historical periods and their relationship to present issues and events.


I can work productively with others to bring ideas to fruition in a large scale project. This includes having defined roles for your team, documents that layout processes, procedures, and outcomes of the project.

ownership of learning

I own my learning through goals, managing credit, using time management procedures, navigating challenges and learning to be a self advocate. I can show lifelong learning skills through owning my learning, thinking flexibly, displaying curiosity, and adaptability

listen to episode one: The Painful History Of Native American Mascots And Imagery


Throughout quarter three, Pathways High students in the More Than a Mascot seminar have been digging deep into the true history and effects of racism towards Native Americans. Students have researched, interviewed, written, revised, and recorded podcasts. After researching and interviewing community leaders, students joined together in small groups and wrote scripts for their podcasts. The result is a podcast series that focuses on racist Native American mascots and the stereotypical imagery that surrounds them. Once the episodes are finished, they will be submitted to NPR’s student podcast challenge. The challenge strives to engage students and create a fun learning method. Many students and teachers across the country have never recorded a podcast, so this competition is an opportunity to learn something new. Submissions will be scored based on creativity and unique information, and the winning podcasts will be featured on NPR.


Creating this series was a multi-step process, including contacting people from outside the school community and collaborative writing. After a few weeks of researching and learning as a class, students split into eight groups, each one creating their own episode for the podcast. Some groups investigated specific mascots, such as the Florida State Seminoles or Washington Redskins. Others studied a broader subject such as student activism in the mascot debate or overall history of Native American imagery. Each episode has a purpose and goal to educate the public on the effects of racist Native American mascots. 


Students were able to talk with community leaders who have been part of the Native American mascot debate for years to gather information and quotes for their episode. Two groups interviewed Andrew C. Billings, a professor at University of Alabama and co-author of Mascot Nation. Another interviewee was Intikana, an international award winning musician. He wrote and produced a music video called “Native Eyez,” which brings awareness to the true history of Native Americans. 


Students have worked hard to create a podcasts series that will bring light to this issue and encourage people to be more mindful in their everyday lives. The Native American mascot debate is an intimidating topic, and some people don’t believe they can make a difference as just one person. However, the students in this seminar will tell you that’s certainly not the case. One way to help us reach an anti-racist environment is acknowledging and eliminating cultural appropriation, or stolen traditions. For example, wearing a fake headdress to a football game may seem harmless, but it’s clearly racist and offensive once you know the origins of headdresses. Native American headdresses are constructed out of single eagle feathers that have been earned over time. They are a symbol of honor, as each feather must be given to you as a gift or earned from something you accomplished. It takes years to accumulate all of the feathers needed to create a headdress, so mocking them diminishes a sense of pride for Native Americans.


As a third year Pathways High student, I have never seen a seminar quite like this one. Each speaker that visited our class impacted me and revealed so much history that had been lost. Before this class, I knew that many events were missing from a typical history book. Now, I know that it’s so much more than that. When we say everything starts with Christopher Columbus, we leave out hundreds of thousands of people who were here first. Not only are we misunderstanding America’s history, but we are misrepresenting the ancestors of the people who were here first. 

listen to episode two: Student Activists Who Are Involved And Working Towards Change

Currently, students around the US are fighting to get rid of the racist and stereotypical native mascots in our society. Because of student activism, Native Americans are finally getting the positive representation they deserve. Today's episode of More Than a Mascot: Rewriting Representation will be discussing the students who are involved and working towards a change. 


Pathways High students Liv, Leah, Anisha and Zen interviewed teacher Jeff Ryan of Prescott, WI, and activists and educators Barbara Munson and Mark Denning to see what is driving a change in repairing the damages of racist Native mascots. 

listen to episode three: Native-Related Rituals And The Racism That Stems From Them Have No Place In Team Spirit

Sports rituals, although they are quote-en-quote ‘important to team spirit,’ walk side-by-side with offensive mascots in preserving the racist isolation of Native people, and therefore need to stop. 


In today's episode of ‘More Than a Mascot: Rewriting Representation’ we will be discussing the idea that Native American-related rituals and the racism that stems from them have no place in team spirit.


Pathways High freshman Maddie spoke with Andrew C. Billings and Jason Edward Black, both of whom are college professors and co-authors of Mascot Nation, to explore the allure behind the racist appropriation of Native rituals.

listen to episode four: The Nickname “Indians” And The Public’s Perception Of What It Represents

The Indian mascot has become a symbol for sports fans, but has turned into a racist and humiliating representation of Native people for decades. This, in turn, is harmful to the future and the heritage of Native Americans. Today’s episode of “More Than a Mascot: Rewriting Representation” discusses the history of the nickname “Indians” and the public’s perception of what it represents.


To explore this topic, students Cam and Siris interviewed with Dr. Ellen Staurowsky of Drexel University and educator RunningHorse Livingston.

listen to episode five: Offensive Mascot Representation In Wisconsin Schools

Creating our podcast was a multi-step procedure spanning over 9 weeks, including an introduction, research, prep, and creation of the podcast. After a few weeks of learning about the history of Native Americans and offensive Native American imagery, we were given eight distinct subjects to create our podcast episodes and were then put into groups depending on which one we chose.

In order to build the podcast on our topic, we had to begin with research. We first started off by focusing on what we already knew from interviews, the internet, and books as a group. From there, we continued with individual research. Our group then prepared to interview two experts on Native American mascot usage in Wisconsin schools. We first spoke to Corey Golla, the superintendent of Menomonee Falls High School and leader in the movement to change his school’s mascot, the “Indians.” He was able to talk with us from his first-hand experience in the process of changing a mascot. We were then able to interview Tricia Zunker, a member of Wausau’s school board, a proud member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, and the first Native American candidate for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. She was able to give us a fact-based lesson on the negative effects of Native American mascots. We finished our interviews, wrote our script, and recorded our podcast.


Through "Offensive Mascot Representation in Wisconsin Schools," we wanted to educate others on offensive Native American mascots in our state. We addressed people’s realizations that indigenous mascots are offensive, people’s naivety about the topic, the challenges of educating people on the topic, and negative responses due to the work people are doing to eliminate mascots. We hope we are able to show the changes that have been made and those that continue to be needed here in our home state of Wisconsin.

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