Democratic Representative Debra Lekanoff said that she plans to initiate the introduction of a new state bill that will ban the use of Native American symbols at public schools across the state of Washington.
The bill will include the prohibition of mascots, logos, and team names that are related to the Native American cultural heritage.
According to some estimates, 31 schools in Washington still use such symbols.
Native names are not a good way to honor the culture according to lawmakers
The bill is also planned to involve the United States Commission on Civil Rights characterization of the existence of Native American symbols as something that prevents equality and mutual concern, termination of which will bring good to the country.
Lekanoff, the only state lawmaker of Native American descent, said that she understands that the use of Native American symbols might present a way to foster the unity of schools that use them, but that symbols should nonetheless be outlawed as they do not adequately respect the legacy of Native Americans.
She also stressed that, even though some schools believe they are honoring indigenous cultures, this is not a proper way to do so.
Lekanoff described the introduction of a bill as a small change that might not only show respect for Native Americans but also give hope for the future.
Lekanoff pointed out that the Board of Education of Washington has already encouraged the schools in the state to end the use of Native American symbols with the policies it introduced in 1993 and 2012.
Some schools, such as Columbia River High School and Minnehaha Elementary School, have followed suit by stopping the use of chieftain mascots.
Washington Redskins changed the name
Logan Foy, the President of the Bellingham High Associated Student Body, seconded Lekanoff by contending that the use of Native American symbols presents dehumanization of the indigenous people.
He recounted that his school replaced its Native American mascot with a hawk in 2000 and announced that the school’s sports teams’ nickname will soon be changed as well.
The bill comes as a consequence of other disputes regarding the use of Native American symbols.
The well-known controversy occurred in July last year when Washington Redskins, a football team from Washington, D.C., was pressured to change its name into Washington Football Team.
If passed, the bill will come into effect in 2022 and will not cover the schools that operate on tribal lands.
Neither would it affect the names of schools, only the team names and other symbols used by schools.