Oregon lawmakers question public school ban on native mascots

(Oregon Public Broadcasting) — The debate over Native American mascots is heating up again in Oregon.

Legislators discussed bills Thursday to overrule last year's state education board decision to phase out native mascots at public schools.

Republican Senator Jeff Kruse is from Roseburg, where the high school teams are called the "Indians." Kruse wants the mascot ban overturned.

"Rather than some state board dictating to all the communities and all the tribes, what this bill does is allow the local tribe and local community to work out their issues, and come to an agreement" Kruse said.

Some tribal members who testified agreed with Kruse, that mascot decisions should be local.

But the Vice President of the Oregon Indian Education Association, Se-ah-dum Edmo, argued for keeping the ban on native names and images.

"Even the images that appear that they may be respectful, do have negative effects on American Indian and Native Alaskan students," Edmo said.

The Siletz confederation supports at least one exception to the ban - for the Indian Warriors who play at a school the tribe helped establish.

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