As Lane Tech Indian is retired, vote coming for new symbol
Loop North News

The Home Front

(Above) Two design suggestions for a new logo, submitted to Lane Tech for consideration. Illustrations by DeBat Media. (Click on image to view larger version.)

Some students and alumni say the statue of a warrior in a feathered headdress, and other Indian symbols on the Lane Tech campus, reinforce harmful racial stereotypes. Others see it as a memorial to veterans who attended Lane Tech.

27-Jun-21 – Lane Tech College Prep High School military veterans, older alumni, and some students apparently have lost their yearlong battle to preserve a 113-year tradition to save the school’s iconic Native American symbol.

In July of 2020, the long-standing Indian symbol was retired by faculty, parents, and a conservative school council. Recently, the school has launched the “Lane Tech Symbol Survey” to create a new emblem to represent the school into the future.

The two-phase survey asks the Lane Tech family – alumni, students, and parents – to share their “most creative and thoughtful” suggestions to create a new Lane Tech symbol. In the second phase, students will vote on the final choice of emblem to be presented to the Lane School Council and the Chicago Public Schools for final approval.

The plan to remove the Native American statue from Lane Tech’s Memorial Garden has developed into a generational donnybrook between military veterans, older alumni, students, faculty, and the council.

Photo by DeBat Media

The restored bronze statue (left), titled Shooting the Stars, depicts a Native American warrior in a feathered headdress gazing to the heavens. The warrior statue stands on a pedestal in Lane’s central private garden at 2501 West Addison Street in West Lakeview.

Some students and alumni say the statue and other Indian symbols on the Lane Tech campus reinforce harmful racial stereotypes of Native Americans.

However, a plaque attached to the base of the war monument simply states: “In reverent tribute to those Laneites who gave the last full measure of devotion for justice, and the American way of life, this memorial is solemnly dedicated.”

The plan will also remove a huge Native American curtain on the auditorium stage, and several priceless Works Progress Administration murals and paintings of Native Americans that adorn school halls. Lane’s WPA murals have been appraised at $11 million.

(Right) Thunderbird totem on the Lane campus near Addison Street & Western Avenue, greatly deteriorated and in need of serious restoration. One leg of the A-shaped totem is completely overgrown with weeds and vines and invisible from across the street. The other leg is incased in rust and peeling paint. However, up close the carved Native American images still are visible. (Click on image to view larger version.)

Photo by DeBat Media

A 2020 survey of 9,135 Lane Tech alumni, faculty, students, parents, and community members found that 52.5 percent wanted the Indian name and symbol to be discontinued, while 47.5 percent staunchly believe they should be preserved. Of the people surveyed, 59.6 percent were older alumni, including many graduates from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Since 1945, some 80,000 Lane Tech alumni have attended the school.

John Schwan

John H. Schwan (left), age 78, Class of 1961, and a decorated Vietnam War veteran said: “The Native American statue stands as a memorial to every Lane Tech man and woman who served in the U.S. Armed Forces since World War I through the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan. Some 314 of Lane’s fallen Gold Star World War II heroes and more than 50 veterans of World War I, Korea, and Vietnam are solemnly honored by name on plaques displayed in the garden.”

Many Lane military veterans say saving the Shooting the Stars statue is “a fundamentally correct cause.”

If the historic Shooting the Stars statue and other Native American icons are banished from the Lane Tech campus, what should the school and students choose as its new mascot name?

Many older alumni, including this writer, believe students should choose “The Champions” as Lane’s new mascot name. After all, isn’t Lane Tech known as the School of Champions because of the hundreds of sports victories and championship awards that adorn its halls? Lane reportedly holds more sports championships than any other Public League school.

One suggestion for the new school symbol should be a simple myrtle green and gold circle surrounding a gold star with a green background, similar to the Dallas Cowboys five-pointed star. The gold star pays homage to Lane’s military heroes. The words surrounding the star would say: “Lane Tech College Prep – School of Champions.”

From the early days, Lane Tech history is filled with sports stars. Ivy League running back Fritz Pollard (Lane Class of 1912) played at Brown University and for the Akron Pros during the 1920s in the National Football League. Pollard (right), the first African-American football coach in the NFL, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005.

Fritz Pollard

One of Lane’s most famous sports heroes is Phil Cavarretta, who played for the Chicago Cubs from 1934 through 1953. Cavarretta was a starting pitcher at Lane, leading the team to city championships in 1932 and 1933.

Phil Cavarretta

As a first baseman/outfielder for the Chicago Cubs, Cavarretta (left) was named National League MVP in 1945 after batting .355 and driving in 97 runs to lead the Cubs to the NL pennant. Other Lane Tech baseball greats include Chicago Cubs catcher John Felske (Class of 1960), who managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1984 to 1987, and Buzz Capra (Class of 1965), who pitched for the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves from 1971 through 1977.

Chuck Logan, one of several Lane football stars when the school won the 1959 Prep Bowl, earned a scholarship to Northwestern University in 1960. He played in the 1964 College All-Star game at Soldier Field and was drafted by the Chicago Bears. Logan, who played tight end, had a six-year NFL pro career with the St. Louis Cardinals and the 1969 Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl team.

Of course, most Lane military veterans and older alumni will continue to wear their graduation rings and cherish the Indian symbol.

“I am, and always will be an Indian,” said Dean Karouzos, age 74, Class of 1965, and a Vietnam War Navy veteran. “In the Lane Indian statue, I see a young, brave warrior shooting not an arrow of battle, but rather symbolically raising his hand to the stars from an invisible bow aiming for peace towards all humankind.”

Ironically, Karouzos lost his Lane graduation ring years ago. So, to immortalize the school’s tradition, he recently purchased an antique 1909 U.S. $5 gold Indian-head coin and asked his jeweler to fashion it into a handsome Lane Indian ring (right).

Go Lane, Go!

Photo by DeBat Media

By Don DeBat | Loop North News | debatnet@aol.com

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