Washington State Board of Education Passes Resolution to End Use of Native American Mascots


Across the nation, from Wisconsin to Oregon to North Dakota to now Washington state, momentum is building in the long standing battle against racial stereotypes in the form of Native American mascots.

On Wednesday, September 26, the Washington State Board of Education (WSBE) unanimously passed a resolution to end the use of Native American mascots in Washington state’s public schools.

Last spring, Matt Remle, Hunkpapa Lakota, created and circulated a petition to formally ask the WSBE to end the use of Native American mascots in Washington State’s public schools.  The signatures were then presented to the WSBE, along with the resolution, by Remle, Rebecca Remle, Paiute, and Michael Vendiola, Swinomish, at a board meeting in late May.  After the presentation, board member Bernal Baca stated he would bring the resolution to vote at a future meeting.

The resolution, in addition to calling for the end of use of Native American mascots, calls on districts to close the widening achievement gap between Native American and other students.

"We are in the business of educating students," Baca said in a statement. "We need to remove any barrier that will impede student success."

The resolution will now be sent to state school districts urging them to discontinue the use of Native American mascots.

But as board spokesman Aaron Wyatt acknowledged to the Associated Press, the board does not have the authority to mandate this change. So there are no consequences for schools that do not voluntarily choose a new mascot.

In the past decade, 10 Washington state high schools gave up their Indian-named mascots, including Eatonville Middle School, which went from the Warriors to the Eagles, and Eisenhower Middle School in Everett, which went from the Warriors to the Patriots., according to KOMO-TV. But at least 50 more, including some tribal schools, haven’t given up their nicknames, ranging from Redskins, Indians, and Red Devils.

Oregon's state Board of Education voted in May to ban Native American mascots, nicknames and logos. Schools in that state have five years to comply. Eight Oregon high schools are affected. Wisconsin enacted a similar ban in 2010.

Remle, who runs a Web-based group called Indigenous Action which has worked on various Native issues, including getting Senate Resolution 8664, recognizing the contributions of Indigenous Peoples, passed in Washington state last February, provided ICTMN with a copy of the passed resolution, which is reprinted below.

2012 Native American Mascot Resolution

Jeff Vincent, Chair ? Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Bernal Baca ? Amy Bragdon ? Kevin Laverty ? Phyllis Bunker Frank ? Elias Ulmer Bob Hughes ? Dr. Kristina Mayer ? Matthew Spencer ? Cynthia McMullen Mary Jean Ryan ? Tre’ Maxie ? Connie Fletcher ? Judy Jennings Ben Rarick, Executive Director (360) 725-6025 ? TTY (360) 664-3631 ? FAX (360) 586-2357 ? Email: sbe@k12.wa.us ? www.sbe.wa.gov

Encouraging Local School Boards to Review Policies Related to the Use of Native American Mascots or Other Symbols

WHEREAS the State Board of Education reaffirms its commitment to encouraging local districts to remove biased, derogatory, or inflammatory mascots, logos, names, and symbols from their schools, and

WHEREAS numerous Washington State public schools continue to use Native American names, symbols, and images as mascots, nicknames, logos, and or team names, and

WHEREAS in 2005, the American Psychological Association, citing research documenting harm to Native American children, called for the immediate retirement of all Native American mascots, symbols, images, and personalities, and

WHEREAS in 1993, the State Board of Education formally adopted a resolution1 asking school districts to re-examine their policies regarding the use of Native American mascots. Other states have formally banned Native American mascots, including Oregon in 2012, and1 Available at sbe.wa.gov/publications.php

WHEREAS 100 National organizations and tribes have called for the immediate retirement of the use of Native American mascots, including the National Congress of American Indians, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Education Alliance, and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, and

WHEREAS student achievement data reveals that the achievement gap for Native Americans is widening.

WHEREAS the State Board is committed to policies that promote an academic climate where each student feels safe, respected, and ready to learn, and

WHEREAS inflammatory mascots are countercurrent to the Board’s vision for an excellent and equitable education for all students, and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Washington State Board of Education urges school districts to follow the principles outlined in the 1993 Board Resolution. Local district leaders are encouraged to review and reevaluate mascot policies that may have an adverse affect on Washington students.

For a video on the situation in Washington state, click:

Native American mascots challenged in Washington

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sonnyskyhawk's picture
Submitted by sonnyskyhawk on
I applaud and support the resolution that was submitted by INDIGENOUS ACTION, my question is - Where is the tribal support locally and nationally ? When a state board of education, like that in Washington, contemplates the eradication of Native mascots, we should be all over it, and at the very least making a supportive statement. To the detriment of the subject though, The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, through their Public Relations spokesperson, Deb Croswell, strenously adds, " We don't have a formal position on it ." (Tri-City Herald) Wow, I hope you did not have to call a special council meeting to arrive at that ingeneous deduction. Another example written in the same article of the Tri-City Herald, quotes a Makah Tribal Member, Terri Mc Quillen, as stating " That is so ridiculous, I was taught to be proud to be a redskin". That un-educated and un-informed type of statement is why Native mascots continue to exist today in America. The native silence and "head in the sand" approach has hurt our people for many decades. The inability to comprehend that silence implies approval, has and will continue to harm the future generations of our people. We need to stand up, speak out and if necessary, litigate these issues in their court systems. As to the Washington Board of Education's efforts, I appaud them. I might remind them that if any educational institution receives Federal funding of any sort, laws already exist to address and deny future funding due to discriminatory practices, and mascots are a form of discrimination and conduct. To the Northwestern Tribal Nations, I would only implore upon them to educate themselves on these issues that effect the majority of tribal nations across this nation, so that you can at the very least provide a more substantive answer, rather than, " We don't have a formal position on it". aho.

mremle's picture
Submitted by mremle on
Sonny, pilamaya for the show of support. To answer your question, yes there was local support. Under the fifth "whereas" you will see the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians listed as one of the organizations supporting the end of Native mascots. ATNI represents 57 tribes in the NW region. The work cited under the third "whereas" regarding the American Psychological Association refers to research conducted by Dr. Stephanie Fryberg (Tulalip) who has done much work on mascot issues both nationally and in the local tribal community. After we presented our resolution to the board, WSBE board member Aaron Wyatt spent the summer collecting additional information on mascots from local tribal leaders. As for Indigenous Action we have 150 members almost all from WA State who played some role in collecting signatures, contacting WSBE members, and educating about the campaign. Hope that answers your questions.

mremle's picture
Submitted by mremle on
I forgot to mention that the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe passed a resolution in 2000 calling for the end of Native American mascots. The Port Townsend "Redskins" high school is located next to them. This is the school the Makah tribal member stated she was proud to come from. Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Chairman, Ron Allen, has spoken out against the use of the Redskins mascot numerous times.

FicechugMinge's picture
Submitted by FicechugMinge on
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