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Indians may be able to keep mascot name


Governor threatens veto of legislation, but there are enough votes to override

It’s starting to look a little bit like Scappoose High is going to be able to keep the “Indians” mascot name, unless a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature is vetoed as Gov. John Kitzhaber has threatened to do.

The legislative votes on Senate Bill 215 were enough to override a veto, but the legislature didn’t serve notice that it would do so.

If the bill is signed into law, it overrides an Oregon Board of Education ruling that schools with Native American mascot names and logos have until 2017 to fully change.by: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

Local officials have had some discussions about making such a change, but it was all put on hold with the introduction of three bills allowing the mascots to remain the same.

While there have been those opposed to the use of mascot names, there has not been much of a hue and cry at local levels for change. There has been vocal resistance to such a change, and generally a feeling that the state board was cramming the change down the throats of the 15 schools in the state with Reds, Savages, Indians, Indianettes, Chiefs, Chieftains, and Braves as mascots.

There was also quite a cost involved for most of the schools, everything from changing uniforms to gym floors. There has also been a feeling of a loss of heritage for many schools with the long-standing mascot names.

Some schools sought and received approval for use of such mascot names by Native American tribes in their areas. The feeling was and is, that if the Tribes don’t object then why should the state?

That approval was written into the bill. It says a local school board can enter into an agreement with the closest “federally recognized Native American tribe in Oregon with respect to name, symbol or image of a mascot associated with a Native American tribe.”

The closest tribes I could find to Scappoose would be the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Community or the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. Not sure exactly how that will pan out, but the Grande Ronde seem to be willing to approve such mascot names with stipulations.

The bill requires respectful comportment of students and spectators at games relating to such mascots and requires cultural diversity training for athletic directors and others designated by the school board.

Those are really not big hoops to jump through.

There is a lot of interest in retaining mascot names and logos by the communities associated with high schools with such names. If the governor does veto the bill, I suspect it will be overridden by the legislature. The bill was passed 25-5 by the Senate and 41-19 by the House, more than the two-thirds required for an override.

Still, you never know.

Personally, I’m a little torn by the issue. I fully understand the desire to hang onto a long-standing tradition and not spend a few hundred thousand on a changeover. Particularly in hard-economic times. I think keeping the mascot is okay, as long as it is done with necessary respect and deference.

There are a couple things on the other side. The use of the word Indian is a little bit weird. Christopher Columbus used the term when he thought he had landed on the shores of the subcontinent. He didn’t realize he was a continent and two oceans off. For some reason the word stuck, and it wasn’t until within my lifetime that it was changed to Native American.

Scappoose has changed its tone over the matter. The cartoonish “Ichabod” is long gone, replaced by a buff Indians in a fully-feathered headdress. True, he may be more of a Plains Indian than one of the Coastal Chinook, and to me bears a certain resemblance to Superman. However, it’s a lot more respectful, and the use of the spear with a feather has been more common than anything else.

It looks like Scappoose, Banks, Molalla, and Roseburg may get a reprieve from