On May 17, 2012, the Oregon Board of Education voted to ban the use of Native American mascots in the state's schools. The institutions were required to remove Native logos from uniforms, sports fields and courts, and all other places they may have been appearing. Today, less than a year later, the Oregon State Senate passed a bill that relaxes that policy, a step back for critics of the mascots.
State Sen. Jeff Kruse, Republican, from Roseburg, and the chief sponsor of the bill, said it should be up to tribes to decide if a mascot is discriminatory. Schools can keep their Native mascots, under the bill, if local tribes approve them. Susan Hansen, a resident of Mollala and a critic of the bill, told the Associated Press that she thinks the mascots reduce Native American traditions to cartoon figures, and also give students the idea that stereotyping is acceptable.
"People dribble baskets balls and sweat on the face of the Indian they are supposedly honoring," Hansen said.
As ICTMN reported earlier, two Oregon tribal councils representing the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians protested the ban, saying they believed mascots can be positive representations of Native people and that the ban violated their sovereignty. A Siletz resolution also declared that while mascots should still be allowed, they should also be complemented by rigorous studies on Native culture.
Reyn Leno, tribal council chairman for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, told the AP he is less concerned about Native American mascots in schools than he is about how his tribe's history is taught. "People need to learn our history," he said Wednesday, April 10. "Then maybe we wouldn't have to deal with … disrespectful school mascots."
Leno said he doesn't find Native American school mascots offensive, but believes local tribes should be the decision makers on the matter.