North Central student pushes to ban use of Native American mascots in WA schools

SPOKANE, Wash. — A North Central High School student is pushing for a proposed bill that would ban the use of Native American mascots in high schools across the state. 

“No group of students should have to carry the burden of representing an entire culture on their backs because the system cannot accurately and respectfully educate students for them,” said 16-year-old Ivy Pete, as part of a public hearing in Olympia on Friday. 

Pete, a junior at North Central, is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. At just 16 years old, her statement alone was proof of a student wise beyond her years, in part because she was forced to make these realizations on her own. 

“It makes it extremely difficult to validate my own identity when I am constantly being shown images of what I should look like or how I should act,” said Pete. 

House Bill 1356 hopes to eliminate the use of Native American representation as mascots, logos, or team names in high schools across Washington, effective Jan 1. 

Currently, it is up to school districts to determine policies surrounding mascots and team names. The State Board of Education has previously adopted two resolutions in regard to Native American mascots, the most recent of which was in 2012 when districts were directed, but not required, to discontinue using such mascots.  

You can watch Pete’s full statement HERE.

READ: New push to retire Native team names headed to Legislature