The battle goes on. Should Native American (Indian) mascots or anything that could be construed as “Native American” be allowed in any high schools in Oregon as far as “mascots” or “symbols” are concerned?
This debate has been ongoing for several years. The State Board of Education, in what I would refer to as a far overreaching move voted to ban mascots last year and added an enforcement mechanism: if the schools don’t abandon their Native American mascot by July 2017, the State Department of Education will withhold state school funds.
As you may know, the Roseburg Indians at one time used a mascot that could possibly by considered “offensive” but has for about 10 years now used a feather as their symbol or mascot. Now I don’t know how hard it is to run on the field as a feather but hey, it’s definitely NOT a Native American depiction.
I have spoken on the air multiple times with Rep. Sherri Sprenger of Scio (HD17) who’s own children have or are attending Lebanon High School home of the “Warriors”.
Now perhaps some might find this image of the Lebanon mascot “offensive”. Rep. Sprenger has spent a considerable amount of time speaking with the local tribe that would most “have a stake in this” and the leader of that tribe, the Calapooya, has stated on several occasions that he/they have no problem with the depiction. They are proud of their heritage and how the kids at Lebanon High conduct themselves.
What you will find, by reading the article from the Oregonian and again from the comments section, (Republicans Aim to Overturn Oregon Native American Mascot Ban) it’s mostly “white guilt” going on here. There are very few ACTUAL tribal members or leaders who are as opposed to the mascots as there are “guilty white folks” from the Portland area or even worse, from outside of Oregon who have pushed this agenda through.
We here in the West, and particularly in Oregon, have a long history of honoring the Indian tribes. Yes I am well aware of the atrocities of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the many decades of cruel behavior toward the Native Americans, but we have a long tradition of naming high school mascots after local tribes or representative of local tribes. I also don’t think the use of “Redskins” or the “Indians” from Cleveland with “Chief Wahoo” are correct ways to depict Native Americans. “Warriors”, “Indians”, “Braves” and the like are ways in which our local schools honor the Natives of this great land. It speaks to the bravery and the honor of the native tribes and I think it’s a cool way to show that we feel a connection to these great people and that many of us have some Native American blood flowing in our own veins!
We also honor those from the European past of many inhabitants of Oregon. McNary Celts, McKay Scots, North Salem Vikings just to name a couple. One could easily say that the mascots are “offensive”. One could easily make a case that I am insulted at the depiction of my heritage. Then again I have much more important things to do in my life and I am not looking for something to have as my “latest cause”. I am calling on the tribes of Oregon to come together in one big meeting and let’s just have a talk about this. Not “outsiders” from California or Nevada, but the tribes and their leaders and let’s just have a plain old talk and even better, let them vote on this!
I want to personally thank Sen. Jeff Kruse of Roseburg who has said “enough!” as well as Sen. Betsy Close of Albany both of whom have submitted bills to the 2013 Legislature to “clean up this mess” and to get the Board of Education OUT of the business of race baiting and instead do what they are charged with doing: educate our children!
So I come back to my title: a feather? Really? A feather?