Lawmakers introduce bill to ban Native American mascots

Aileen Carranza, Editor-in-Chief

For many years, Native Americans have been used as mascots for sports teams and schools. It has been a very controversial topic. Some believe that it is offensive to Native Americans and is an inaccurate portrayal, while others believe that a mascot is a symbol of strength for a team with no negative relation.
Recently, two lawmakers introduced a bill in Illinois banning the use of Native Americans as a mascot. They elaborated that this isn’t necessarily a complete ban, but a law that has guidelines. They would prohibit the use of Native American imagery in schools unless they, according to CNN, “receive written permission from a tribe within 500 miles of the school, which would have to be renewed every five years, conduct a schoolwide program on Native American culture at least twice a year, offer a course on Native American contributions to society, and file an annual report with the state on the academic programs they offer about Native Americans.” If a school doesn’t follow these requirements, they would be ineligible to play in playoffs.
Illinois isn’t the first state to introduce such a bill. Just last year, Maine was the first state to fully ban the use of Native American Mascots. Oregon prohibited public schools from using symbols, and, in California, the Racial Mascots Act was passed that banned the term “Redskins” as a team name, mascot and nickname.
According to the APA, racist stereotypes and inaccurate representations of Native Americans used in the general public have a harmful effect on the self-esteem and development for identity of young Native Americans.
If the bill is passed, this would directly affect a school very close to us, Minooka Community High School. MCHS refers to themselves as the Minooka Indians, their logo being a Native American, or ‘Indian’. They are unsure what the decisions were in deciding the mascot. According to the school’s website, Minooka’s origins begin with pioneers, not Native Americans. It will be very interesting to see how such schools react to this law, if passed.
Joliet West’s mascot is a tiger, so it was very interesting to get the opinions of students on this issue. Turn to page two for the complete photo opinion from Joliet West students!