For Opponents of Native American Nicknames, 2020 Has Introduced Hope

For Opponents of Native American Nicknames, 2020 Brought Hope

“You cannot support these athletes who protest against racism without looking at this racial cover-up on one of their teams,” said Maulian Dana, a Penobscot Nation ambassador to Maine who is actively campaigning for the elimination of the names of local teams has used mascot.

Of the 29 schools that have given up indigenous names since early August, 11 were known as “Indians,” according to the NCAI database, and three were known as “Redskins,” which is widely considered to be the most offensive nickname for indigenous peoples. The database shows almost 800 schools that use the nicknames “Indians” and 95 “Redskins”.

When the Washington NFL franchise, the most prominent team with that moniker, finally gave it up on July 13, the decision exposed school districts that were still preoccupying it to further scrutiny.

One of these was the Union Public School district in Tulsa, Okla. Last month, after 70 years, the district’s school board unanimously voted to get rid of the Redskins name. Kirt Hartzler, the district’s superintendent and former high school soccer coach, said a similar proposal was unanimously rejected in 2003. This time, however, he sensed a new climate of diplomacy on both sides of the issue.

“There is a season for everything, and this was the right season for this change,” Hartzler said in a recent telephone interview. “Not only because of the internal forces, but also because of the external forces that had appeared at the national level. We had to take the right side on this, and I think we did. “

Among the roughly 1,900 schools (in 1,025 districts) offered according to the NCAI database, is Neshaminy High School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which continues to use the nickname Redskins despite protests. The Philadelphia suburb said it spent an estimated $ 435,000 on litigation to keep the name before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission ruled in 2019 that schools can continue to use native names and images if they meet certain requirements.