The question of whether or not organizations and institutions should portray Native people as mascots seems to have an obvious answer: Don’t do it. Nevertheless, debate over the issue rages on. In 2014 FiveThirtyEight reported that over 2,000 U.S. sports teams still had names referencing Native Americans, including epithets like the Redskins and the Savages. But a new bill being considered in Massachusetts may bring that number down and bolster the argument against the offensive practice.
S 291 would prohibit “the use of any Native American mascot by a public school in the Commonwealth.” And if it passes, 37 schools in the state may have to change their school and/or sports team logos, names, and mascots. Massachusetts isn't the first state to legislate mascots of marginalized groups; Minnesota and Wisconsin school districts have already banned Native American mascots, while Oregon school districts have set a deadline for schools to retire them by July 1.
As MassLive.com reports, the Massachusetts Teacher Association has come out in favor of the bill. But both Republican Rep. Marc Lombardo and Democratic Rep. Jim Miceli oppose the bill, as they expressed at a public hearing about the bill on Tuesday. With positions on the bill crossing political and cultural lines, there is surely a tough fight ahead for something that should be a given.