Posted on Sun, Nov. 28, 2004

`Warrior' retires to museum:
Northwest Cabarrus Middle School changes nickname to Titans"

Staff Writer

Northwest Cabarrus Middle School is shedding its Warrior nickname and, next school
year, will become the Titans.

Principal Nancy Barkemeyer said she and the school initiated the switch because of
increased awareness and sensitivity to the cultural concerns of Native Americans.

The school is going a step further: Northwest Middle's old Warrior mascot costume is
being handed over this week to the Levine Museum of the New South for display.

The Levine museum, showing an exhibit called "We're Still Here: American Indians in
the South," has invited Barkemeyer and selected Northwest students to attend a
related panel discussion on Tuesday. The costume will be presented before the
discussion, which will include representatives from the Catawba Cultural Preservation
Project, the Metrolina Native American Association and the N.C. Indian Affairs

"The principal contacted us because of our exhibit," said Ashley Thurmond, the
museum's communications manager. "(Barkemeyer) has been driving this."

Thurmond said the museum is working with Barkemeyer to help "retire" the school
mascot -- often pictured as an Indian chieftain in full headdress. The May 2004
yearbook was titled "War Cry."

"(The name) seems like, for lack of a better word, hostile," Barkemeyer said.

She said she considered the change after hearing from an Asheville man who told her
the N.C. Board of Education recommended that Native American mascots be retired,
unless they were tied directly to local Native American populations.

After consulting with schools Superintendent Harold "Butch" Winkler, she brought up
the issue with the student council and leadership team, a student advisory group.

"Some of our kids, to be real honest, don't understand why anyone would be offended,"
Barkemeyer said.

Every morning during announcements, students recite a list of admirable Northwest
Warrior traits, such as being respectful.

But, she said, you can find out how Native Americans really feel in books such as
"Heart of a Chief" by Joseph Bruchac. It's about a middle-schooler who lives on the
(fictional) Penacook Indian Reservation in New Hampshire. He harbors resentment when
sports fans do the "tomahawk chop."
"It's hard for you to understand ... if that's not your background and culture,"
Barkemeyer said she told her students. "One of the things we're always trying to talk
to kids about is living in the world together and not purposefully offending anyone."

The middle school voted on the new nickname, the Titans, during Kids Voting on
Election Day. "Titans" won over three other choices: Gladiators, Buccaneers and
Wildcats. In Greek mythology, the Titans were godlike giants personifying the forces
of nature.

So in August 2005 -- the school's 25th-anniversary year -- Northwest Cabarrus Middle
will become the home of the Titans instead of the Warriors. The school colors will
remain orange and black.

Barkemeyer estimates it will cost $5,000 to $10,000 to make the switch. She said
Winkler pledged financial help.

"The Warrior has been around for 25 years, on cafeteria trays, on the sign in front
of the building. He's everywhere. The sports stuff is the most expensive," she said.

Barkemeyer said she's pleased the Levine Museum will display the old Warrior costume.
When she saw that the museum was presenting an exhibit on Native Americans, she
called to see if it was interested.

"I really wanted the museum to take some of our Warrior memorabilia because that,
too, speaks of our culture," she said.

"When I called, I said, `This isn't anything real,' " she said of the old Warrior
headdress, pants and shirt the mascot wore to Northwest Middle games.

Want to Go?

The Levine Museum of the New South exhibit on Native Americans will be on display
through Jan. 9. It features artifacts and photographs of Southern Native Americans by
Charlotte photographer Carolyn DeMeritt and text by author Frye Gaillard. The exhibit
portrays Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Seminoles, Catawbas, Lumbees and

The panel discussion "Being American Indian Today" will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday,
followed by a reception. The museum is at 200 E. Seventh St., Charlotte; (704)
Gail Smith-Arrants: (704) 786-2185; gsmith-arrants@-

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