Oregon’s Board of Education met today to consider a ban on Native American mascots in Oregon public schools. Board members heard from a broad panel of witnesses both for and against such a measure.
Witness after witness waited patiently to give testimony to the board. Che Butler - a member of the Siletz Tribe- first raised the issue with the board 5 years ago. He says the mascots are from an era when native peoples were forced to cut their hair and abandon their heritage for western ways.
“The only time we were allowed our heritage was when we walked into the gym and that image was on the wall”, he told the board.
Others defended the respectful use of native symbols.
Kevin Johnson is a teacher and coach at Lebanon High School. He’s also a member of Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
“As a native educator, what an opportunity to go into different communities and educate non-native children about the ideas of being a warrior", said Johnson.
The board will hear additional testimony on a proposed rule this spring. A final vote isn’t expected until this summer.