Editorial: Reject state policy on Indian mascots

"Oregon state School Superintendent Susan Castillo recently received a report from an advisory panel that had spent several months studying the issue of Native American mascots in the state's high schools. The report recommends that 15 schools in the state should change mascots by September 2011.

Castillo should reject the recommendation, not because the concern is not legitimate (in many cases it is) but because this decision should be made at the local level, as we editorialized in 2005. Attitudes about Native American mascots vary from one community to the next. The subject is certainly worth examining; it's a healthy exercise for students, parents and administrators. But feedback from various educators in Oregon indicates that an Indian mascot often is a source of pride. Thus, for some committee in Salem or the state superintendent to mandate a statewide policy would be unwise.

Here in Clark County, the subject could apply to Columbia River High School's mascot, the Chieftain, although if there are any concerns about that tradition, they have yet to gain much traction. We think River's mascot is a source of great pride, and the Chieftain logo is a noble representation of a proud people. But that's not to say the issue should not be raised elsewhere. For example, the "Chief Wahoo" mascot of the Cleveland Indians baseball team is a cartoonish oaf with a goofy grin. It's easy to see how that logo offends Native Americans and other people, and it's easy to see why it should be changed."

Get the Story:
In Our Opinion: Mascot policy should not be statewide (The Columbian 10/27)

Relevant Links:
Oregon Department of Education - http://www.ode.state.or.us

Related Stories:
Column: Compromise possible on Indian mascots (10/26)
Editorial: Don't force schools to drop Indian mascots (10/19)