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Organization for Native American Interests

Organization for Native American Interests (ONAI) is one of many student organizations devoted to cultural exploration. Often community members take part in the organization’s events along with student members. Students need not be Native American or NAS minors to take part in regular group activities, but should have both a strong desire to learn more about Native America and a commitment to social justice. Over the years ONAI students have volunteered their time serving community organizations and fundraising for such things as tribal blizzard relief and collecting back-to-school supplies for American Indian children.

The group’s activities are aimed at increasing awareness and understanding through education, experience, interactions with Native American elders, writers, leaders, and so on. ONAI students are encouraged to attend cultural activities such as tribal festivals and powwows, and visit significant historic and cultural landmarks. Some of these travel experiences are organized through the club and some are facilitated by the Native American Studies Program.  ONAI invites you to visit the group on Facebook or email: native_american_studies@mail.wvu.edu

Regarding Interest in Native American Mascots and the Morgantown High School "Mohigan" team name:

It is common to find variations of both historical and contemporary spellings of a tribe's name because such names were translated phonetically into the English language. Thus one could assume the names "Mohegan," "Mohican," and "Mohigan" (the MHS team name) are all references to the same tribe. In fact, the Mohicans and Mohegans link their origins to the Lenape (Delaware) Indians of the Northeast. The Stockbridge Munsee Mohicans' tribal website details a  complex history of displacement and removal to present-day Wisconsin from their ancestral lands in the Northeast, where the citizens of the Mohegan Tribe still live. More information on the history of these two tribes is available at the following links:

Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican History

Mohegan Tribe Virtual Exhibit

Morgantown High School history and advocates for retaining the mascot suggest the team name "Mohigan" (pronounced Moheegan, just like "Mohegan"), is a fictional term. It was apparently first used as the name of the annual yearbook, composed of the first letters in the words " Morgantown High Annual." Subsequently, "Mohigan" was adopted as the school's team name, incorporating stereotypical Native American imagery such as a large feather headdress associated not with the Eastern Woodlands tribes, but appropriated from Plains Indians traditions.

Both the Stockbridge Munsee Mohicans and the Mohegan Tribe, along with innumerable other federally-recognized tribes and Native American organizations such as the National Congress of American Indians, as well as the NAACP, NCAA, American Psychological Association, various national religious organizations such as the United Methodist Church, et al., all oppose the continuation of such Native American mascots. Official statements from the Mohegan Tribe and Stockbridge Munsee Mohican tribe appear below.

pg 1 Stockbridge Munsee Mohican resolution pg 2 Stockbridge Munsee Mohican resolution Mohegan Tribe mascot statement