Mascot Bill Could Strain State-Tribal Relations

Nov 6, 2013

The Lac du Flambeau tribe of Ojibwe is urging Governor Scott Walker not to sign a bill making it harder to change race-based school mascots.  The Republican-backed legislation has passed the Assembly and the Senate.  The new rules would require a petition of signatures and proof of discrimination before a school mascot can be changed.  

Current law has it the other way around – a school must prove its mascot isn’t discriminatory. 

Lac du Flambeau spokesman Brandon Thoms says the proposed rule changes encourage destructive stereotypes of Native people.

“People still don’t have a true understanding of who Native Americans are.  Considering all the technologies and how far we’ve come as a society – it’s disheartening to know that there are a group of people who still don’t understand who we are as people.”

Governor Walker has not indicated whether he’ll sign the bill into law.  Thoms says the governor’s support of the bill would damage relations between the state and the tribe.  

“It’s really surprising that he would even consider signing this, knowing that he has such interaction with our people. It’s definitely a step backwards, and it’s disappointing.”

Republicans say the new law would create a fairer process for changing school mascots.  Democrats call the changes discriminatory and racist.