From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Oklahoma City University athletes will no longer be 'Chiefs'

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 11 Dec 1998 04:21:06

Dec. 10, 1998	Contact: Linda Green((615)742-5470(Nashville, Tenn.

By United Methodist News Service

Athletes at United Methodist-related Oklahoma City University will no
long be known as the "Chiefs".  The name, used by the school since 1944,
will be dropped in May and a new logo and mascot will be introduced for
the 1999-2000 academic year.

The Rev. Glenn Millard, vice president of university-church relations,
said the change is being made in response to a request of the United
Methodist Church that its related colleges and universities review their
use of mascots and logos. He said a congregation of the Oklahoma Indian
Missionary Conference had asked the OCU president and trustees to
consider changing the name in light of action taken by the church's 1996
General Conference.

The church's top legislative body approved a resolution asking that
colleges and universities related to the denomination replace logos,
symbols and mascots that demean and offend Native Americans. It also
supported efforts to replace such designations in institutions and
organizations throughout society.

Plans for changing the OCU logo and mascot were announced last month by
university president Steven Jennings. A committee comprised of
representatives of the various university groups--  including
administrators, students, parents, alumni, faculty and athletes  -- will
research prospective names until April and make a recommendation to the
university's board of trustees.

Bud Sahmaunt, an American Indian who is OCU's athletic director,  was a
member of the Chiefs basketball team when he was a student.   He said he
found no offense with the use of the Chiefs name which had been
respected by the school but  said he is "sensitive to other American
Indians, particularly the younger generation, who prefer that nicknames
of this sort not be used." He expressed gratitude that the school is
looking to the future and has "shown proper respect for the feelings of
American Indians."

This year, two United Methodist agencies addressed the issue of Native
American names.

Because the location of the 2000 General Conference is Cleveland and its
baseball team is identified as the Indians, governing members of the
Commission on Religion and Race requested  in September that planners of
the conference "denounce the Cleveland baseball team's abuse of  Native
American names" in letters to city and state officials and the team's
owner. The commission also asked that cities be eliminated as sites for
future general conferences if they have professional sports teams with
Native American nicknames, mascots and symbols.  

Governing members of the church's  Board of Church and Society also
passed a resolution in October encouraging sports teams  to change
mascots and logos that stereotype Native Americans.

United Methodist News Service
Releases and photos also available at

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home