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Banning Native American school mascots

Banks High School in Oregon will no longer be the home of the Braves. You won’t find Indians or Warriors in Oregon in a few years either.

The Oregon State Board of Education has banned public schools from using American Indian names and mascots for their athletic teams, out of a concern they disparage native American people.

Researcher Stephanie Fryberg says the use of Native Americans as mascots “devalues and limits individual identity.”

“I do not believe any of our schools with Native American mascots intended to be disrespectful, however intent is not enough,” Superintendent Susan Castillo says.

The board held over eight hours of public testimony on the topic and received over 700 pieces of written testimony.

“Our role as educators needs to be to create a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment for all of our students – an environment which honors them for who they are as individuals with a rich and varied cultural history,” Castillo says. “We can no longer accept these stereotypical images for the sake of tradition when they are hurting our kids.”


The Banks High School mascot on the wall of their gym in Banks, Oregon. Oregon now has the toughest restrictions on American Indian nicknames, mascots and logos. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Oregon’s ban prohibits using a name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian Tribe, individual, custom, or tradition that is used by a public school as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name.

Prohibited names include: Redskins; Savages; Chiefs; Chieftains; and Braves. Schools may continue to use the name “Warriors” as long as it is not combined with a symbol or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian Tribe, individual, custom, or tradition.

The move is believed to be one of the nation’s most sweeping prohibitions of its kind in favor of native Americans who say their culture is stereotyped by a number of sports teams.

The vote in Oregon was 5-1, and schools have until July of 2017 to comply with the decision.

Washington has a number of schools with Native American mascots. You’ll find “Braves” at Bethel High School and Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School. Clover Park High School has Warriors.

Several years ago, Issaquah also banned mascots based on racial stereotypes. Issaquah High School has done away with its long time “Indians” mascot. They are now the “Eagles.”


Is this mascot inspiring or offensive? Seven schools in Oregon will have to change their nicknames and mascots or risk losing state funding. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer


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