Staff editorial: Native American mascots can be OK

Story by The Spectator staff

Schools should be able to use Native American names and mascots as long as they are respectful to the tribes they represent.

The Wisconsin State Assembly recently signaled support for a bill that would limit the use of Native American names and mascots, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

The bill would allow residents to complain about potentially racist mascots, and schools would either have to defend the mascot or stop using it within a year.

The bill allows Native American mascots to be used as long as the tribe it represents approves its use and design.

Allowing Native American tribes to have a say in the mascot decision is a responsible and respectful part of this bill.

In an area that has a long Native American heritage, some of the mascots can promote the history of a town.

Native American mascots are not the only potentially offensive school symbols. Up north, in Hurley, Wis., the teams’ mascot is the Hurley Midget, carrying an icon of a small, but strong, man.

Native American mascot names, such as the warriors, are not usually offensive themselves, but the associated images can be.

A mascot should represent the surrounding area of a school.

The current choices for UW-Eau Claire’s mascot are a voyageur and an ox, both of which represent an aspect of the area’s heritage.

People sometimes err too far on the side of caution in an attempt to be absolutely politically correct, but these mascots can be looked at positively.

It would be a disservice to these schools and communities to completely overhaul the mascots if this bill goes into effect.

Native American heritage is such a large part of this state, and doing away with all signs of it would only further marginalize those groups.

Schools must use mascot names and images responsibly to reflect the history of the area but also offer a modern, appropriate context to the people each mascot represents.