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Kitzhaber Vetoes Native American Mascot Bill

Northwest News Network, Chris Lehman

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has vetoed a bill that would ease a ban on Native American mascots. It was the last bill the Democrat needed to act on following this year’s legislative session.

Fifteen Oregon schools use Native American mascots like Warriors, Indians and Braves. Last year, the state Board of Education voted to give those schools until 2017 to get rid of them.

But Oregon lawmakers voted last month to allow school districts to keep their mascots if the nearest American Indian tribe agrees. The governor’s veto pen nullifies that move.

Some Native American groups applauded the action. “The presence of these mascots creates an environment where Indian students who are in the classroom feel alienated and objectified,” says Se-ah-dom Edmo from the Oregon Indian Education Association.

The governor says he’s open to a different approach. He says he’d be okay if lawmakers allow schools to name their teams after a specific tribe, provided that tribe gives its approval. That idea could come before lawmakers next February.

On the Web:

SB 215: School mascots - Oregon Legislature 

Governor Kitzhaber’s veto statement - Office of the Governor 

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