Effort to ban Washington schools from using Native American names and mascots goes to full House

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Ted S. Warren

OLYMPIA, Wash – A bill that would prevent public schools from using Native American names, symbols or images as mascots or logos passed out of the Washington House Education Committee Friday and will now go to the full House for debate.

House Bill 1356 states that the use of “racially derogatory or discriminatory school mascots, logos or team names in public schools is antithetical to their mission of providing an equal education to all.”

The bill specifically focuses on Native American names, symbols or images.

Schools would have to change mascots and logos by January 2022. The original bill exempts schools that have enrolled boundaries within “Indian Country” or public schools on reservation lands.

During Friday’s hearing, the committee also amended the bill which would also exempt school districts that have worked closely with local tribes on mascots, names and logos.

Rep. Bob McCaslin, who represents parts of Spokane County, objected to the bill. He specifically cited Reardan High School, whose mascot is the Indians. Rep. McCaslin said Reardan Schools worked closely with the tribe on depicting the mascot.

In an earlier hearing, the superintendent of the Reardan-Edwall School District testified against the bill for that reason. He said his district has been working with the Spokane Tribe.

Despite the amendment that would exempt schools in those situations, Rep. McCaslin was one of two votes against passing the bill to the full House.

You can read the bill and follow its progress through the legislature at this link.

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