“Maine has banned the use of Native American mascots in its public schools and colleges, making it the first state in the nation to fully outlaw the use of such images by educational institutions and athletic programs.” C. Hauser, The New York Times
“Gov. Janet T. Mills, a Democrat, signed “An Act to Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools” on Thursday. The legislation, which was passed unanimously, prohibits Maine’s public educational institutions from adopting a name, symbol or image related to a Native American tribe, person, custom or tradition for use as a mascot, logo or team name.
Maulian Dana, the tribal ambassador for the Penobscot Nation in Maine, said this week that the law, which will take effect this fall, ‘sends a message of truth and honor and respect.’
‘It is part of a big picture of historical oppression of Indigenous people,’ she said. “When you see people as less than people, you treat them accordingly. That actually points to the very core of it, is that they make us invisible and turn us into stereotypes.’
State Representative Benjamin Collings, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a statement: ‘Our tribal communities laid the foundation of our state. They are people, not mascots.’
The National Congress of American Indians, a public education and advocacy group, said it applauded Maine for its new law and hoped other states would follow ‘on the right side of history.’
Although not as broad, similar steps have been taken by other states and educational institutions:
In 2012, Oregon’s Board of Education decided that all public schools must eliminate Native American team names and mascots or lose their funding.
In Massachusetts, an act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools has been submitted to the Joint Committee on Education for a hearing.
California’s Racial Mascots Act has prohibited public schools from using “redskins” as a school or athletic team name, mascot or nickname since Jan. 1, 2017.
Florida State University, whose mascot is the Seminoles, was one of 18 institutions that the N.C.A.A. in 2005 prohibited from using “mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin.” But the university was allowed to keep its mascot with approval from the 3,200-member Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Another of those institutions was the University of North Dakota, which dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname in 2012 in favor of the Fighting Hawks.
The professional teams that use Native American mascots include the Washington Redskins, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Cleveland Indians.
Their names and logos have long faced especially strong opposition given their ubiquity in the teams’ home regions. Some of the measures to restrict the symbols have not taken the form of outright abandonment. Beginning this year, the Cleveland Indians’ uniforms no longer include the logo of Chief Wahoo: a grinning, red-faced caricature. But Major League Baseball guidelines say that the logo will continue to appear on some merchandise at certain outlets.”