The Banks High School score board is shown on the wall of their gym Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Banks, Oregon.

Oregon Joins Wisconsin in Banning Native American Mascots

ICTMN Staff
5/19/12

In a 5-1 vote on Thursday, May 17 the Oregon Board of Education decided the fate of Native American mascots in the state’s schools—they will be no more.

While many districts complained that changing logos would cost too much, the board chose to join Wisconsin in the fight to end the stereotyping by banning Native American mascots—Wisconsin was the first in 2010.

At least 15 schools across the state have five years to get rid of the offensive images or face losing state funding. The ban specifically prohibits the use of names, symbols or images that refer to Native tribes, customs or traditions. Specific names that have been banned include “Redskins,” “Savages,” “Indians,” and “Braves,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

This is stricter than the Wisconsin ban, which allows district residents to lodge a complaint about an offensive mascot and then requires the school to prove that the mascot does not promote discrimination.

“Unfortunately, for many of our Native American youth, the decision seems to be between being a mascot and being invisible,” board chairwoman Brenda Frank, a member of the Klamath tribes, said near the conclusion of more than eight hours of public testimony over the past few months, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The nickname “Warriors” can continue to be used as long as the imagery used with it isn’t associated with Native Americans.

Supporters of keeping the mascots say those who grew up with them are very passionate about and proud of the mascots.

“If you strip these school districts of their mascots that they are so proud of for whatever reason you’re basically doing the same thing that the white man did to the Indians years ago, which is stripping them of their identity,” says Cheryl Martin Sund, of Rogue River, Oregon in an Associated Press video. “Now you could take away our Chieftain logo, you can make us call ourselves something else, but to everyone who graduated from Rogue River High School and all of those kids that are in school there now, they are and will always be Rogue River Chieftains.”

Se-ah-dom Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock/Nez Perce/Yakama, says in the video that those who accept Native mascots are “bargaining for accepted levels of racism.” She is the coordinator of the Indigenous Ways of Knowing program at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and also said: “What they do not seem to grasp is that even small amounts of racism is still racism.”

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dianehill's picture
dianehill
Submitted by dianehill on
More often than not, crazy people don't know they're crazy. The same sometimes applies to racists. Most times they have had NO CONTACT with people of color and know nothing about them. Result, ignorance. If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny that mascot supporters believe they are more Indian than REAL Indians and that they have the right to use our names, images, and likenesses however they please without regard to what WE want. There is currently a huge backlash happening in Oregon from these folks. The ignorance is stark and deep and there's no reasoning with people who are operating from emotion instead of logic and sensibility. The bottom line is: We won in favor of the ban. They didn't. They knew 20+ years ago that this issue was coming, yet no preparations were ever made or acknowledged for it, and now they are screaming injustice and whining about the money it will cost to make things right. WE VOTED. If this issue was so important to them, why didn't they vote? LULULULULULULULULU for us!!!

baloouriza's picture
baloouriza
Submitted by baloouriza on
Oklahoma became a state before it became legal to be not-white in Oregon. Oregon is whiter than the United Kingdom. So really, this decision goes well with Oregon's long-standing history of trying to eradicate everything not white. Personally, I'd rather be misunderstood than forgotten or stamped out. The Pacific Northwest: The Deep South of the Third Millennium.

v0ice's picture
v0ice
Submitted by v0ice on
Oh the irony. “If you strip these school districts of their mascots that they are so proud of for whatever reason you’re basically doing the same thing that the white man did to the Indians years ago, which is stripping them of their identity,” says Cheryl Martin Sund, of Rogue River, Oregon I would say to Ms. Sund that being a "Chieftain" is NOT your identity. That is the identity that belongs to Indians. By taking it, you are impostors, identity thieves. Being stopped from using a false, stolen identity is simply justice and respect. In addition, consider the status of a mascot. It relates to the Spanish word mascota which means a pet, an animal. Indians are not pets nor animals. Be honest. Be who you are. Don't hide behind some fantasy figure.

cherry801's picture
cherry801
Submitted by cherry801 on
What your reporter forgot to include in the article is that being a "Chieftain" is very much my identity. I am very proud to be part Native American so I resent being called an identity thief and an imposter. Don't assume and jump to conclusions until you know all the facts.
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