DENVER — What started out as an attempt to shame a local high school into dropping a mascot name viewed as racist has raised at least $100,000 for scholarships for American Indian college students.
The effort began last winter when a group of Native American students at the University of Northern Colorado asked officials at nearby Eaton High School to change the school's mascot from "Fighting Reds" because the name was offensive.
When the school refused, members of the UNC intramural basketball team, made up of American Indians and whites, decided to get even.
They named themselves the "Fightin' Whites" and began wearing T-shirts bearing the name. After getting national media attention they began selling the shirts, which bear the slogan, "Everythang's going to be all white," from their Web site.
More than 15,000 shirts and hats have been sold, raising at least $100,000.
"It's actually kind of an amazing thing that happened there in Colorado. Not only did they raise the level of debate but they also turned it around and raised money for Native American scholarships," said Charlene Teters, vice president of the American Indian Movement's National Coalition on Race in Sports and Media.
"There have been posters before that made fun of teams, but nothing has been this successful," said Teters, a member of the Spokane Nation.
Jeff VanIwarden, a team member who helped manage the T-shirt campaign, said the amount of money available for scholarships will depend on whether an application for tax-exempt status is accepted.
A $10,000 endowment has already been set up for one scholarship at the University of Northern Colorado starting next year.