The Native American Mascot Issue: It’s about Honor

Native American Mascots were created between the 1930s and 1950s, during a time when Native American people were not being treated with respect, dignity or as first-class American citizens. This is important to note, because today many teams or people associated with these mascots will claim they are meant to “honor” Native American people and their culture.

Since as far back as the 1970s, both here in Oregon and across the country, there has been an effort to eliminate the use of Native American Mascots by sports teams in schools both K-12 and colleges.

Many schools across the country have moved away from the use of these racist images, names and logos, but at least 13-15 Oregon high schools still use Native American mascots today.

In 2006, two students Che Butler and his sister Luhui Whitebear of the Siletz tribe testified in front of the Oregon Board of Education in support of the elimination of these mascots in Oregon schools.

In 2012, The Oregon Board of Education voted 5-1 to eliminate the use of Native American mascots in Oregon schools by the year 2017 or lose funding. Since then, there has been legislation to block, stop or alter the total removal of these racist mascots.

More information on this topic can be found on the State of Oregon Website. You can also check out the State Board of Education Report (PDF) Here.

Sam Sachs and The No Hate Zone have been involved in working towards eliminating the use of these mascots and replacing them with state-wide education about the history of our Native American communities and tribes.

We don’t need the mascots to continue this work, and it’s time to truly honor Native American Oregonians and protect students from intentional or unintentional discrimination that results from the use of these mascots.

In 2017, we will lobby the Oregon State legislature to eliminate the use of Native American mascots, based on the evidence that they violated the state’s discrimination laws.

More Information on the Issue

Oregon State Superintendent Report on Native American Mascots

Research supports that using a Native American as a mascot promotes discrimination. The American Psychological Association (APA)1 has called for the retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations.

The American Sociological Association has called for the elimination of the use of Native American nicknames, logos, and mascots in sports. Many newspapers will not print the name of such mascots, including The Oregonian.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association stopped recognizing Indian mascots in 1998. A number of organizations have called on schools with Indian mascots to discontinue their use.