By a 5-1 vote on Thursday, the Oregon State Board of Education voted to ban schools from using American Indian mascots, The Oregonian reported. Schools may keep their “Warriors” or “Chiefs” team names, but must replace logos that reference American Indians or American Indian culture.
At least 15 of Oregon’s schools will need to update their logos, or risk losing state funding. The vote came after six years of efforts to pass such a policy, and makes it one of the strictest in the country.
“I’m overwhelmed, but I’m holding back on my emotions — I have a meeting to finish,” the board’s Chairwoman Brenda Frank, a member of the Klamath Tribes, told the Oregonian. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Compelling evidence moved the Board of Education to decide the use of Native American logos had to go. The Oregonian reports:
Some board members seemed to sympathize with the communities’ concerns, but ultimately found research that Native American-themed mascots could be detrimental to the health and safety of students more compelling.
“There’s a collective right that exists here,” said board Vice Chairman Artemio Paz. These sorts of mascots produce “racism and unnecessary bullying. We do not allow that to exist for any of our populations.”
Another member, Samuel Henry, said he’d read at least 25 studies on the topic while he deliberated. “I could not find any research that substantiated the use of those mascots.”
“I understand pride for a team name,” he added, but these names are not appropriate.