State Senate passes bill to ban use of Native American mascots in schools
The Washington State Senate passed a bill Tuesday night banning the use of Native American mascots in public schools.
The bill prohibits schools from using any Native names, symbols, or images as team names, logos, or mascots. It also carves out potential exceptions provided “certain requirements are met, including tribal consultation and authorization.”
Schools that have been already using Native imagery will also be allowed to gradually phase out uniforms and other materials.
Supporters of the bill have fought back against arguments that mascots honor the history and legacy of Washington’s Native population.
“It does not make these Native students feel proud or honored,” Democratic State Sen. Lisa Wellman said during Tuesday night’s deliberations over the bill.
On the other side of the aisle, the prevailing argument centers around the preservation of history.
“We’re going to be eliminating some of the history and respect that we’ve had,” Republican Sen. Judy Warnick said.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Debra Lekanoff, says she was originally inspired to introduce the legislation when the Washington Football Team decided last year to abandon its Native American name.
The measure has now been passed in both chambers of the state Legislature, but will need to be taken back up in the House for concurrence, after amendments were added and approved in the state Senate.
The House will likely take it up again sometime next week for final approval, before sending it on to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for a final signature.