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Mascot name change probably happening

Signs are that the legislature may not pass bills regard school mascots


I got a call this week from some woman in Molalla whining about the Scappoose mascot name. She is vehemently opposed to Native American mascots and obviously not shy about sharing her opinion with complete strangers.

Several bills were introduced in the legislature this year that allowed the 13 or so schools in the state to keep their mascot names if they got approval from the closest recognized tribe. Several tribes have indicated they’d support such a move conditionally.by: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

Mascots such as Braves, Indians, and Warriors will be banned under an Oregon State Board of Education ruling last spring. Schools with such mascot names will not be given state funds until they divest themselves of them. They have until 2017 to do so.

Scappoose has been waiting to see the outcome of the legislative bills before making a change. That’s understandable because there is a large cost in doing so.

Some communities, such as Molalla (Indians) are putting up a quite a row about change. The student body appears united against a change, as are many of the adults in the community.

As of this week, it doesn’t appear the bills are going to pass in the legislature. They’ve been sent to the House rules committee, commonly thought of in legislative terms as a place bills go to die.

It’s easy to understand the Scappoose High reluctance to change quickly. The term Indians has a strong tradition and a certain bond for many that are attached to the name. It’s all a part of those old school ties. My wife is a Scappoose High grad so I understand the feeling. On the other hand, I had a class reunion last summer and our school mascot was not mentioned once.

Once it’s clear what has to be done, Scappoose will go through a process on picking a new mascot. One administrator suggested Tribe might be an acceptable alternative.

He may be right. Tribe certainly doesn’t apply just to Native Americans, any more than clan applies just to people in Scotland. Scappoose would still have to get rid of Native American references, but might be able to keep the “spear” they’ve used for years.

It might seem like a way to circumvent the directive, but if done right it could be good. Instead of a single individual, a Tribe drawing could include a variety of peoples. It could signify diversity.

I’d find the whole thing laughable if people weren’t so vehemently polarized on the issue. It seems to come down to an issue of anti-political correctness versus psychology studies. While some say it is a matter of disrespect using any Native American reference, some schools with large populations of Native Americans don’t feel the same. Some of the tribes would agree to usage if Native American courses of study are included, and the logos are non-cartoonish.

Scappoose did away with Ichabod, the big-nosed cartoon character used for many years, some time ago. In fact, the best I can find is that the mascot name was originally adopted in the early 1930s. It was a pretty racially-charged time in Oregon history, even and perhaps particularly in Columbia County.

With everything else that is going on in the legislature currently, including an ongoing battle over PERS, I’m thinking the bills are not going to get much play. That could be wrong.

Scappoose got off to a good start on the issue at first, but things seem stalled right now. Perhaps a committee of community members, school staff, and students should be formed to discuss alternatives.

I wouldn’t suggest leaving the matter entirely in the hands of students. One story I read said that the issue came up at a school in Pennsylvania and they voted 59 percent in favor of “Whiny Tribal Person” with the mascot being an evil-looking lawyer with a subpoena. That was shot down.

I would suggest a more measured approach should be taken.

I perused the list of Oregon mascot names listed by the Oregon School Activities Association. Most appear to be some sort of animal (but no Banana Slugs), while there are others like Cowboys, Spartans, Loggers, Black Tornado (not good in Oklahoma), Outlaws, Raiders, Knight Crusaders, Locomotives, Boomers, Mountaineers, Celtics, Oakers, Pioneers, Quakers, Cruisers, Royals, Kingsmen, Generals, and so on.

Perhaps Scappoose could adopt a different tack and go with something like Orange, or perhaps suck up to Intel and go with Pentiums.

Think of the whole thing as an opportunity. There are always possibilities.

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