Oregon district suspends fight against mascot ban

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) The Roseburg School Board has suspended its legal challenge to the state ban on Native American mascots after learning that it was unlikely to win.

The Oregon Board of Education approved the ban last May after months of passionate and emotional debate about tolerance and tradition. It requires Oregon teams such as the Roseburg Indians to come up with a new mascot by July 2017, at the risk of losing state funding.

Roseburg School Board Chairman Steve Patterson said board members were recently informed the district would likely lose a court battle, and that the state Board of Education does have the authority to withhold money if schools don't switch their nicknames, mascots and logos.

The district has not ruled out re-starting its legal challenge, but will wait to see if the Legislature takes action takes any action on the matter.

"It's much too early to say we're going to abandon our disagreement with the state on the ban," Patterson told the News-Review. "We're going to wait and see what the Legislature does."

State Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, drafted a bill that says the Board of Education doesn't have jurisdiction over state mascots while Rep. Sherrie Springer, R-Scio, drafted a bill waiving the ban for districts that have gained mascot approval from nearby tribes.

Since the 1970s, more than 600 high school and college teams across the country have done away with their Native American nicknames, including 20 in Oregon.

Opponents say Indian mascots are racist, reinforce stereotypes and promote bullying of Native students. Supporters say the mascots are a way to honor Native American history, evoking values of strength and bravery.

The ban requires eight Oregon high schools to retire their Native American mascots. Another seven high schools identified as the Warriors will be allowed to keep their nickname but must change mascots or graphics that depict Native Americans.

The five-year transition period is intended to help districts pay for changes and give them time to pick a popular new nickname.


Information from: The News-Review

Eight Oregon high schools will have to retire their Native American mascots after the Board of Education voted Thursday to prohibit them, giving the state some of the nation's toughest restrictions on Native American mascots, nicknames and logos.

The 5-1 vote in mid-2012 states that the schools have five years to comply with the order or risk losing their state funding. Another seven high schools identified as the Warriors will be allowed to keep their nickname but will have to change mascots or graphics that depict Native Americans. An unknown number of elementary and middle schools also will be affected.

The ban doesn't apply to colleges, but none in Oregon have Native American mascots after Southern Oregon University and Chemeketa Community College dropped them.

List of Oregon schools affected by the decision

Amity High School: Warriors
Banks High School: Braves
Lebanon High School: Warriors
Mohawk High School: Indians
Molalla High School: Indians
North Douglas High School: Warriors
Oakridge High School: Warriors
Philomath High School: Warriors
Reedsport High School: Braves
Rogue River High School: Chieftains
Roseburg High School: Indians
Scappoose High School: Indians
Siletz Valley School: Warriors
The DallesWahtonka High School: Eagle Indians