Editorial: Don't force schools to drop Indian mascots

"Nothing identifies a school more readily than its nickname. A compulsory change would be greeted as a forced abandonment of tradition, and as a sacrifice of deeply rooted identity on the altar of political correctness — not to mention an unwarranted expense.

Yet the issue of Indian nicknames is far from trivial. They can perpetuate hurtful stereotypes. They can represent the unauthorized appropriation of one group’s identity by another. Those who defend the use of Indian nicknames in the name of long-standing tradition, or who argue that the nicknames have only positive connotations, have an obligation to consider the views of those who see things differently.

Not all traditions are benign, and those who use nicknames are not the only ones entitled to judge their meaning. Oregon has a shameful history, not long past, of mistreatment of Native Americans, and the images used to depict them must be evaluated in that context.

Students and others connected to each school with an Indian nickname, mascot or logo should be encouraged to take an honest look at it from a variety of points of view, discover how the perceptions of words and images can vary, and then make a reasoned judgment on their own. Any decision to drop or alter a nickname should come from below, and should be the result of a school community’s movement toward respect and inclusion."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Respect can’t be forced (The Eugene Register Guard 10/18)

Related Stories:
Native American mascots surrounded by controversy (KCBY 10/18)
Schools to discuss Indian mascots (The Albany Democrat-Herald 10/17)

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