Oregon Lawmakers Suggest Letting Schools and Local Tribes Agree on Acceptable Mascots

As the Oregon Board of Education considers a rule that would remove state funding from any school or district that continues to use a American Indian mascot after July 1, 2017, opponents to the proposal have found something to get behind.
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As the Oregon Board of Education considers a rule that would remove state funding from any school or district that continues to use a American Indian mascot after July 1, 2017, opponents to the proposal have found something to get behind.

The Albany Democrat-Heraldreports that opponents of the mascot banning proposal are lining up in support of a recent suggestion from Rep. Sherrie Sprenger. Rep. Sprenger has suggested allowing waivers for districts that would work out a mascot that was deemed acceptable by local tribes.

State Superintendent Susan Castillo, hearings officer Cindy Hunt and three members of the state board, listened to testimony for close to five hours on Friday, April 27 on the proposed rule, with a vote is expected at the board’s meeting May 17. Rep. Sprenger, a Republican from Oregon's mid-valley region, provided board members with her suggested waiver amendment. Her proposal states, "If there’s an agreed-upon resolution and acceptance, it (names and logos) can be allowed. I think this would bring us closer to the goal I have, which is communication, understanding and respectful dialogue within a community.”

Sprenger identified a potential issue some would have with her suggested amendment and addressed it—that she might have trouble identifying which "local tribe" districts would contact. She wrote that she would leave it up to the tribal nations themselves to decide. Speaking of her own district, the mid-valley, she said: “Teach me who to call.”

The Forest Grove News, meanwhile, reported on April 29 that the "majority of feedback to a proposed public school ban on Native American mascots received by the Oregon Department of Education is in opposition to such a change, with many feeling such a shift is unnecessary and potentially costly."

What do you think? If you'd like to offer your own comments or feedback on the Oregon Board of Education's proposed rule to ban American Indian mascots, they will be taken through noon, on May 17, via this email address:ode.nativeamericanmascots@state.or.us

Or you can mail your feedback to:

Native American Mascots/Superintendent of Public Instruction

Oregon Department of Education

255 Capitol Street, N.E., Salem, OR 97310

For more coverage on American Indian mascots and stereotypes at Indian Country Today Media Network, click here.