Lawmakers in the Assembly passed a bill making it harder to force schools to drop Indian nicknames and mascots.
The bill puts the burden of proof onto the group complaining of discrimination: instead of making the school prove it isn’t discriminating. The Republican legislation also requires signatures totaling 10 percent of the student body, instead of letting an individual file a complaint.
Supporters say it makes the process more fair. Opponents call it discrimination.
Democrats tried unsuccessfully to send the bill to the education committee, where they said it should have started.
Minority Leader Peter Barca lambasted the bill as offensive.
“Recognize this is not a bill in keeping with the direction that our state has been traversing, and that they entire nation is going in. This takes us backwards.”
Barca also questioned whether Governor Scott Walker would sign the bill, asking how Governor Walker would face the tribal representatives he deals with on a regular basis.
One lawmaker pointed out the irony of the bill being passed the day after Columbus Day, since the arrival of Christopher Columbus brought on the decimation of Native American populations.
The bill also nullifies the Department of Public Instruction's previous orders to change Indian names -- including Mukwonago, which refuses to abide by the state's order to drop its "Indians" name.
Audio for this story was gathered courtesy of Wisconsin Eye.