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Native American Mascots

Pete Springer/OPB

The Oregon State Board of Education is considering a ban on Native American mascots in public schools. The board first heard the issue five years ago. Che Butler, who was in high school at the time, brought it up after he witnessed a Molalla High School halftime show featuring a Native American mascot with a target painted on his bare chest.

The board held a meeting last Thursday and heard testimony from Native Americans that were both for and against a ban. Lebanon High School teacher and coach Kevin Johnson — a member of the Choctaw Nation — said it opens up an opportunity to “educate non-native children about the ideas of being a warrior.”

Butler, who is a member of the Siletz tribe, argued it is a sign of disrespect for the mascots to continue to be used.

There are currently 15 schools in Oregon that use Native American mascots. Some have already decided to use more neutral imagery. Enterprise High School changed its mascot from the Savages to the Outlaws in 2005. And Roseburg — though still the Indians — changed their image from a Native American man to a feather.

Five years ago the board recommended the elimination of Native American mascots, but it has not outright banned their use.

Are you Native American? How does the use of Native American mascots affect you? Would you like to see their use banned?

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