Here's the headline from FOX 21 News Duluth/Superior:
Wisconsin officials issue first order against Native American mascot
On May 5, 2010 a new law went into effect in Wisconsin creating a legal avenue for individuals to challenge school mascots they deem racially offensive. It states:
"a school district resident may object to the use of a race−based nickname, logo, mascot, or team name by the school board of that school district by filing a complaint with the state superintendent."
If the complaints are considered valid and the mascot or logos are considered race-based, there is a hearing in which
"the school board has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the use of the nickname or team name in connection with the logo or mascot does not promote discrimination, pupil harassment, or stereotyping, as defined by the state superintendent by rule."
If there is ambiguous evidence that the mascot or logos are race-based then:
"the school district resident who filed the complaint... has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the use of the nickname or team name by the school board promotes discrimination, pupil harassment, or stereotyping, as defined by the state superintendent by rule."
If the state superintendent rules it is race-based and offensive, the school district has 12 months to remove the offending mascot and name but can appeal for up to 12 more months. Thereafter, the district can face fines upwards of $1000 per day for keeping the mascot past the allotted time.
The full text pdf of the law is available here:
I heard about this law back in the Spring and am finally glad to see it put into action. I am so glad the law uses the term "race-based mascot" because that really is the crux of this issue- the wholesale appropriation of the name, images, and symbols of a distinct group of people (whether Native or not).
The law also seems to provide an exception for districts using specific Indian mascots named after and approved by federally recognized American Indian tribes. I have mixed feelings about this but I suspect it might have been written into the law as part of some political deal-making.
I'm curious to see where this leads but as I always argue in this issue... mascots change, people move on, and the kids will have just as much fun in school!
Here's another news story about the community reaction:
This pretty much sums it up:
"We've always been a close community and it's starting to separate. But, we'll get back to it. If (the Chieftains) stay, that's good, if they don’t, we'll be OK," says Brenda Hulett, a Chieftain alum.
and here is the offending mascot, the Osseo-Fairchild Chieftain:
For more on my personal thoughts and feelings regarding Indian mascots, check out these previous posts:
Clinton Redskins Demonstration- a narrative
April 29 Clinton School Board Meeting
An example of an offensive stereotypical Indian mascot still in use: