Feb 18, 2013, 1:19 PM EST
Because things are so swell in Oregon right now, the state government will now wrestle over their ban on Native American sports team nicknames. The Oregon Board of Education voted to ban Native American nicknames in schools back in 2007, and if you notice some schools still have them, that’s because the enforcement mechanism doesn’t kick in until 2017. After that, the state Department of Education can withhold state school funds if a school doesn’t change its nickname.
All of which does not sit well with Oregon State Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg. He’s the one sponsoring Senate Bill 215, which would overturn the state’s ability to punish a school because of its mascot. Sen. Betsy Close, R-Albany, is sponsoring a nearly identical bill.
Roseburg High School, where Kruse played football in his teens, abandoned its Indian mascot more than a decade ago in deference to the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, but kept the name. Kruse:
“I think in every single case, whether you were talking about the name Indians or braves or warriors or whatever, all the issues had already been worked out at the local level,” Kruse said. “What the state board did is a solution in search of a problem.”
“The Oregon Indian Education Association will do all we can to, once again, mobilize our state-wide supporters to block this attempt to continue the harm of children,” said Se-ah-dom Edmo, vice-president of the association and a strong supporter of the mascot ban.
Of course you know that earlier this month Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen announced that the NFL team would be keeping its nickname, amid renewed calls to dump it. But the same week Allen was making that announcement, students at Cooperstown High School in upstate New York voted to get rid of their Redskins nickname. The name derives from James Fenimore Cooper, author of Last of the Mohicans, for whom Cooperstown is named.
The Native American mascot issue is so divisive that even Native Americans can’t agree on it. The Florida State Seminoles, for instance, are keeping their nickname in large part because local Native American representatives say they have no problem with it.
But what Native American doesn’t have a problem with Redskins? That’s crossing the line, in my humble opinion, and the students at one New York high school agree.
Meanwhile, can someone in Oregon tell me why your legislators care to spend time and money continuing to argue over this?
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