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Obama Initiative: Native American Mascots Can 'Potentially' Cause Harm

On Thursday, the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) said Indian mascots can "potentially" cause harm.

On Thursday, the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE) released a final report on listening sessions conducted in October through November of 2014 regarding school environments of Native children.

Nine gatherings were held in seven states and drew over 1,000 attendees. The report’s recommendations on Native-themed mascots were as follows:

“States and local school districts should consider the historical significance and context of Native school mascots and imagery in determining whether they have a negative effect on students, including Native American students. [The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights] should explore providing guidance to schools, district, states, and institutions of higher education regarding civil rights compliance when hostile environments are created by the potentially harmful Native imagery and symbolism, including school mascots and logos. OCR, states, and school districts should work with schools to develop and implement actions to change potentially harmful imagery and symbolism. “

Numerous studies have concluded there is empirical evidence demonstrating that Native American mascots harm Native children’s self-esteem and lead to adoption of racial stereotypes by non-Native children.

President Obama famously remarked in October 2013 that if he was the owner of the Washington football team, and he “knew that [the] name of my team – even if it had a storied history – that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it.”

WHIAIANE is located within the Department of Education and was created by Executive Order on December 2, 2011.