Native American mascots – discrimination?

Discriminate: intransitive verb.  1 a: to make a distinction <discriminate among historical sources> b: to use good judgment.  2: to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit <discriminate in favor of your friends> <discriminate against a certain nationality>

The state Board of Education will consider a rule that would prohibit nicknames such as “Braves” and “Chieftains”

Register Guard:  The “Warriors” nickname may be the only reference to Native Americans permitted under a proposed rule that would ban the use of Indian-related terms as nicknames, mascots or logos in Oregon public schools.

The Oregon Board of Education will hold a hearing today on proposed language that would do away with words such as “Indians,” “Chieftains,” “Braves,” “Savages” and “Redskins.”  In Oregon, at least 15 high schools currently have such names.

Under the new policy, no images of Native Americans would be permitted as logos, but schools using “Warriors” as a nickname could keep it as long as there are no Native American images associated with it. Unlike the other terms, the word “warriors” isn’t specifically linked to Native Americans.

If the new rule is adopted, districts would have until Jan. 1, 2013, to report to the state which of their schools have Native American nicknames. Those schools would then have until July 1, 2017, to change to a non-Native-American logo and nickname. Schools that violate the ban after that date would face the possibility of losing all or part of their state funding under current state statutes that prohibit discrimination.

Joel Bradford, superintendent of the Marcola School District, said he is aware of the new language. Marcola’s Mohawk High School Indians would have to change under the proposal.

The education board first considered banning American Indian mascots in 2006, after a Lincoln City high school student — a member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz — described the ways such logos and mascots end up being used to harass, alienate and stereotype Native American students.

State board members convened an advisory committee that, in 2007, recommended the elimination of Native American mascots. But nothing changed, in part because of the outcry among communities that didn’t want to give up such names.

The issue still divides. At a state board meeting in March, many people spoke out in support of the nicknames, including several American Indians. After that meeting, the board instructed department staff to develop a draft policy to ban the mascots and nicknames.

There will be a financial cost to districts forced to make the change.  Bradford said he doesn’t know what it might cost his tiny district if the Native American face etched into the floor of the high school gym has to be removed. It could mean sanding down and resurfacing the floor or outright replacing it. Bradford’s best guess: anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000.

In the Roseburg School District, home to the Roseburg High School Indians, Superintendent Larry Parsons said a 2007 estimate of $345,000 to make the change there was based on the high school’s previous work swapping out an image of an Indian for a feather, in a process that included consultation with the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe.

Parsons said Thursday he doesn’t know what it would cost today to change the name and the image, but added that financial concerns should not be the deciding factor.  “I don’t want to focus on the money,” he said. “It’s about local control and doing what’s right for kids at the same time.

Parsons said he thinks schools are being held hostage to the mistakes of the past, when insensitive images and thoughtless people led to discrimination against Native American students. He thinks that is less true today.

Parsons said he believes there’s a distinction to be made between mascots and nicknames. People who dress in Native American attire and mimic stereotypes shouldn’t be considered in the same way that words are, he said. Words such as “Indian” and “Warrior” can be used to express respect, he said.

Yet both the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association have called for an end to Indian mascots and nicknames by schools, colleges and professional athletic teams because of research describing the emotional harm they cause. (no link provided to cite the research.)

Districts do need to pay attention to what their students are experiencing, Parsons said.  “If there are issues around this, they do have to be resolved or you have to get rid of the nickname,” he said. “You can’t allow children to be discriminated against.

So if it’s not about the money yet rather about protecting children who may be discriminated, why give the schools five years to make the change?  Plenty of children will have to go to these schools with offensive names for possibly their entire high school years. Don’t they want to do what is right for the kids?



9 responses to “Native American mascots – discrimination?

  1. I’m sick of all the political correctness –there’s anything, anymore for anybody be offended by. Society has become a cesspool for thin- skinned globs of protoplasm to ooze out from the sewers of the self-serving underworld ! Somebody, sometime, someday, somewhere, somehow is going to be offended at least somewhat someway ! (wink wink–)


  2. Let me add–I live in a state where most of the population is either Native American or part Native American! Most people I know have much respect for the Native Americans, and mascots or Indian names were chosen as a token of respect of that heritage. Believe me, it’s the outside liberal interests with other agendas who have been stirring up all the controversy & causing agitation. They are the same group that works continually at convincing minority groups that they need to be angry & upset over “this or that”. And they could CARE LESS about those groups–they want to provoke & cause unrest. Period.


  3. i can see the us sliding into the dust bin of history.


  4. Political correctness is a mental disorder.



  5. Go Chiefs.


  6. My great-grandpa was a Viking. We still have his Norwegian Bible he brought with him and my great-grandma on the ship to America. (it’s massive!)

    I agree Sage. I do not understand this…we all have unique heritages, that’s what makes us Americans. Plus, I played basketball and ran track in high school and to represent my school by wearing our colors or to say I was a “Lady Hound” meant something. I worked hard for my positions. Kids will always be picked on with or without the mascot. Good grief, I was called “chicken legs” all thru high school and college…I didn’t care! I still have chicken legs and my hubby thinks they are quite nice….Thank you! 😀


  7. so, be a victim group and stomping on other folks rights is a o.k.? let me play spoiler here. recent findings from mummies found in florida and out west (westover pond mummies in titusville, fla. & kennewich, wash. man) have confirmed that both peoples had some interesting things in common. 1. they were both many thousands of years old, much older than any indian populations and 2. they were both caucasian populations. the westover bog people even had brain matter still intact. the indian tribes tried to sieze the kennewick man and rebury him under a treaty that gives them rights to pre-columbus bodies. seven scientists filed suit, and won, allowing them access. the dna of the westover caucasians came from europe. so, the native amerikans wanting to hide evidence, may not be the first people in the Americas, as they claim to great profit.


  8. not to mention the celts and the boston celtics not even pronounced correctly… and oddly the celts who built kurgan burial mounds wherever they lost any of their warriors. these mounds have been found in south eastern russia, obviously the island of hibernia and also in southern iowa in the town of keokuk (took a guess at the spelling) when some archealogists dug up the mound in Iowa and dated the skeltons they found a. the skeletons where caucasian b. they predate the arrival of the (indians) by many centuries…. so native american to me is someone of celtic origin not one of mongolian origins. also in smithsonian magazine there was an article about archealogical digs along the eastern seaboard of the usa and the finding of ancient skeletons that all predated the indians arrival and where all of caucasian origin. native american refers to all of us as the mixture of the different ethnic backgrounds and tribal groups has made us unique uniquely american.


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