Serving Franklin County, WA

Bill banning American Indian mascots a complete waste of time

Measure is a hypocritical codification of discrimination in schools

It’s a solution in search of a problem.

Lawmakers in Olympia appear to be fast-tracking House Bill 1356, which would ban the use of “racially derogatory or discriminatory” American Indian mascots, logos and team names in public schools in the state.

Simply put, the bill is political theater, nonsense that kowtows to the politically correct crowd that’s bent on cancelling our culture, heritage and history. The bill is quickly moving through the Legislature even though I think it’s relatively easy to see there isn’t an “inappropriate use” of mascots or logos in our schools.

Just take a look around Eastern Washington high schools. East of the Cascades, we have the Almira-Coulee/Hartline Warriors, Cheney Blackhawks, Cle Elum-Roslyn Warriors, Colville Indians, Kamiakin Braves, Moses Lake Chiefs, North Central (Spokane) Indians, Reardan Indians, Touchet Indians, Wahluke Warriors and Wellpinit Redskins.

If you walk into the gyms of these schools, there is nothing derogatory about the American Indian logo, mascot or imagery. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

The Reardan and Colville school districts use their mascots, logos and team names to promote the “tribe.” That demonstration usually includes words like teamwork, respect, honesty, trust, citizenship and leadership. The same can be said of the other districts using tribal mascots, logos and team names.

For example, in Kennewick, the school district opened Kamiakin High School in 1970 and selected the Braves as the mascot as a tribute to Chief Kamiakin, who organized the Yakama, Palouse and Klickitat peoples, leading them into the Yakima War of 1855-1858.

And what about the Blackhawks?

The mascot in Cheney is a tribute to Chief Black Hawk, a mid-western Sauk leader who opposed the use of alcohol just as much as he opposed white American settlers encroaching on tribal lands. During the War of 1812, he sided with the British. Later, in 1832, he led the Black Hawk War against settlers in the Illinois-Wisconsin area. Nowhere in Cheney High School will you see any derogatory portrayal of Chief Black Hawk or American Indians.

Clearly, both chiefs were strong leaders among their respective communities. Naming a school or mascot after them is hardly an “inappropriate use.”

So, what about the Wellpinit Redskins, you ask? If you’ve never been to Wellpinit, you have a lot to learn.

Wellpinit is a tribal community in the heart of the Spokane Indian Reservation. The school and community have embraced the Redskins mascot, and they have no desire to change.

Take a seat in this small school’s gymnasium for a basketball game and you’ll likely hear a thundering “Redskins Power,” chanted by dozens, if not hundreds, of local fans who simultaneously clap and stomp their feet on the bleachers.

The Redskins logo and mascot are a source of pride here.

Interestingly, should the proposed measure make it through the Senate (it previously passed the House 92-5) and be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, it will likely have little effect other than to codify political correctness as it relates to American Indians and schools. That’s because it carves out caveats for schools on reservations or in counties with reservations or trust lands. It also exempts school mascots that have been “approved” by nearby tribal leaders.

So, most likely, the bill won’t force any school on our side of the state to change mascots.

The bill will only serve to further codify and authorize a new wave of discrimination in our public schools.

If it passes, theoretically, local schools would be barred from using American Indian mascots. Yet, they would still be allowed to use logos, mascots and team names that could potentially discriminate against other cultures.

And there are many ethnically based representations in schools around Washington state, including the Ferris Saxons in Spokane, Auburn Trojans, Bainbridge Spartans, Chimacum Cowboys, Garfield-Palouse Vikings, just to name a few.

At best, this bill is nothing more than virtual signaling to the money and power brokers behind the excessive political correctness we’re seeing today. At worst, it’s just one more successful step in the effort to cancel our culture, heritage and history.

Unless you’re going end the use of all ethnic mascots, logos and team names, House Bill 1356 is a hypocritical waste of taxpayer money and time. Lawmakers should dump this bill and move on.

— Roger Harnack is the publisher of Free Press Publishing. Email him at [email protected].

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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