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Friday, November 23, 2012

Seattle Human Rights Commission Calls on Legislators to Ban Native American Mascots in Public Schools

Posted by on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 12:16 PM

The Seattle Human Rights Commission (SHRC) is asking Washington State legislators to step up and ban the use of Native American mascots—from Warriors, Indians, Braves, to Redskins, Tomahawks, and Totems—in the state's public schools.

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, today the commission passed a resolution calling "for the elimination of Native American mascots because of the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian students."

It follows a September resolution passed by the Washington State Board of Education that encouraged roughly 30-odd public schools around the state to drop their Native American mascots.

"We applaud what the board of education did but it's basically voluntary," explains Chris Stearns, chair of the SHRC. But he says the Washington ed board lacks the teeth to issue an outright ban on mascots. "We’re taking it a step further and asking the legislature to do something. We're pushing them to do what Oregon did."

Last May, the Oregon state Board of Education issued an outright ban on Native American mascots, nicknames and logos from its public schools. Oregon school administrators have five years to comply with the edict or risk losing their state funding.

The SHRC resolution cites as many as 50 Washington schools that currently use Native American imagery and motifs, while the Tri-City Herald puts the current number at 32 public and private schools.

Eleven schools call themselves Warriors—including the privately-run Seattle Christian High School. Another eight schools around the state call themselves Indians, and another four are Braves, including Seattle's Bishop Blanchet High School (another private institution).

Stearns says his next step is approaching legislators to see if any are willing to sponsor a bill for the mascot ban, starting with Rep. John McCoy (D-Everett), a Tulalip tribal member. If such a bill were drafted, Stearns says he would support an exception for schools that are located on tribal land or have a direct tribal connection.

"The board [of education] started a great conversation, we're just trying to keep it going," Stearn explains.


Comments (13) RSS

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TVDinner 1
So long overdue. Oh my god, embarrassingly long.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on November 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Thats awesome. Now we should target the fightin Irish and Vikings.
Posted by erly on November 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
sperifera 4
I totally support honoring Native/First Nations/Indigenous Peoples by ending this disrespectful misappropriation of mascot names, but question whether Warriors should be defined as such. I've never associated it with any one group, and suspect that the word was in use long before the European invaders decimated a vibrant culture.
Posted by sperifera on November 23, 2012 at 12:38 PM · Report this
raku 5
#3: Wow, what a problematic slippery slope. If only human beings had the ability to tell what is obviously degrading & offensive and what obviously isn't.
Posted by raku on November 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
warriors to me is a generic term for any, well warrior. This could refer to medieval knights, modern soldiers or any number of fighting men during the course of history.

the others to me definitely refer to the native americans and should be banned. I guess you could look at the various "warroirs" logos and get them to change it to a viking or roman legionary if it is a native with a tomahawk or something
Posted by high and bi on November 23, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Asparagus! 7
I was just wondering aloud yesterday how teams can be called the 'redskins' in 2012. The defence of things like 'braves', 'indians', 'warriors', et al. is always something about respecting the blah blah (and other problematic, obtuse shit), but redskins is just a straight-up, unadulterated racial slur.
Posted by Asparagus! on November 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM · Report this
Asparagus! 8
Also, re: warriors and roman soldiers

Why would you want to be the XXXX warriors when you could be the XXX prætorians?
Posted by Asparagus! on November 23, 2012 at 1:33 PM · Report this
California Kid 9
How is Tomahawk and Warriors disrespectful? Tomahawks where ( and are ) still used and American soldiers of all races, and warrior is a race neutral term.
Posted by California Kid on November 23, 2012 at 1:34 PM · Report this
Skye Blu 12
the only school that can have a Native mascot is one that has 50% or larger population of Native American students.
Warriors i think is a generic term for fighter, they can keep the name but change the logo to something not a bad caricature of a First Nations person.
Clearly also Fightin' Irish is damn offensive and since there are more Irish here I would have thought that one would have been put to bed sooner rather than later, but then look at St. Patty's day...
Slow progress is better than no progress, and either is better than regression.
Posted by Skye Blu on November 23, 2012 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Fnarf 13
Get rid of Eastside Catholic's "Crusaders", while you're at it.
Posted by Fnarf on November 23, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
All of the Federal Way middle schools are named after Native American tribes. Most of them have animal mascots, but one team is the Sacajawia Warriors, and the other is the Illahee Braves. They were named thus to HONOR native americans, not insult them. I don't see how renaming the mascots will in any way make anything better for anyone. Does Federal Way need to rename all their schools so they don't have Native American names? Sometimes PC is just stupid.
Posted by SeattleKim on November 23, 2012 at 7:18 PM · Report this
NaFun 15
I don't think many Irish mind being known as belligerent drunks.
Posted by NaFun on November 23, 2012 at 8:16 PM · Report this
Those who call themselves Warriors could probably deal with the problem by changing their mascot imagery to something more Viking-looking, without changing the name.
Posted by I have always been... east coaster on November 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM · Report this

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