Oregon outlaws all Native American mascots statewide

There will never again be a team called the Braves, Chiefs or Indians in the state of Oregon, after the Northwest state officially outlawed all mascots connected to Native American themes in a State Board of Education meeting.

The Roseburg High School gym — Portland Oregonian
The Roseburg High School gym — Portland Oregonian

The decision to ban Native American-based mascots came as the result of a 5-1 vote by the state Board of Ed and will require some 15 schools to change their mascots. Additionally, all schools which refer to their teams as the Warriors will also have to scrub all references to any Native American customs from school insignia.

According to the Portland Oregonian, the decision to ban Native American mascots came after six years of debate on the subject. While there is still a five-year grace period before the rule kicks in, State Board Chairwoman Brenda Frank, who is a Klamath Tribe member, said she was emotional about what she clearly considered to be a landmark decision.

"I'm overwhelmed, but I'm holding back on my emotions -- I have a meeting to finish," Frank told the Oregonian. "It's been a long time coming."

While the decision to get rid of all Native American mascots may seem like a simple issue of political correctness, it also brings with it significant economic issues at a time of extreme financial distress for many of the state's school districts.

The back of a Molalla High dugout — Portland Oregonian
The back of a Molalla High dugout — Portland Oregonian

According to one school -- Molalla (Ore.) High -- the effort to rid itself of all insignia related to its existing "Indians" mascot could cost the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Meanwhile, Molalla principal Randy Dalton insisted that no one in the school's surrounding community took offense at the school's choice of a mascot.

"I'd be hard pressed to find somebody who would want to bring shame to the Molalla Indian Tribe," Dalton said. "There's a lot of tradition here. It's a very respectful community that wants to do the right thing."

The Oregon State Board claimed it took those significant financial concerns into consideration, but that it couldn't choose to side with those economic worries because of the potential such mascots had to offend Native American students across the state.

"There's a collective right that exists here," Board Vice Chairman Artemio Paz told the Oregonian. These sorts of mascots produce "racism and unnecessary bullying. We do not allow that to exist for any of our populations."

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