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Tags: native american | mascots | schools | legislation

State Legislators Move to Ban Native American Mascots

State Legislators Move to Ban Native American Mascots
(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 09 July 2021 10:14 AM

State legislators in Colorado and Nevada have passed bills preventing public schools from adopting Native American mascots following the Washington Football Team’s decision to stop using their old name, which was a racial slur.

While Colorado and Nevada passed bills last month banning public schools from having Native American mascots, Massachusetts and Connecticut have legislation that is still pending. Maine was previously the only state to ban schools from using Native American mascots after Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill in 2019 after the last school district in the state to have a Native American name voted to retire their mascot.

"While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish," Mills said in a statement at the time, according to The Hill. "A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of price. Our people, communes and understanding and respect for one another are Maine’s source of pride and it is time for our symbols to reflect that." 

"There’s been this conversation going on since the ‘60s," said Matthew Campbell, a staff attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Colorado. "With the Washington Football Team making the change, now we’re seeing it in various states certainly coming to a head." 

The National Congress of American Indians reports that at least 1,891 schools in the United States continue to use Native American mascots or nicknames, about half call themselves Indians, about a quarter say they are the Warriors, around 200 are called the Braves, about 178 are called the Chiefs, and 92 schools still use the name that the Washington Football Team retired. Some of those schools have elected to change their mascots or nicknames.

The Hill notes that attempts to ban Native American mascots and nicknames have been met with resistance from Republican state legislators. Colorado’s bill passed over the objections of every member of the GOP in the state House of Representatives, and attempts to introduce legislation on the subject has stalled in the Republican-controlled legislatures in Arizona, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.

"We often hear from the local schools themselves that it’s about respecting native people and honoring them. But again I think that kind of misses the point when you think of the harms that can occur to students. It’s often Native people themselves who are seeking to have the images removed," Campbell said. "There certainly seems to be an age divide."

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State legislators in Colorado and Nevada have passed bills preventing public schools from adopting Native American mascots following the Washington Football Team's decision to stop using their old name...
native american, mascots, schools, legislation
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2021-14-09
Friday, 09 July 2021 10:14 AM
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