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?