Fri September 27, 2013
Native American Community Reacts Strongly To Proposed Mascot Law Revision
Wisconsin's Native American community reacted strongly to Republican legislation that would change the state's law on school mascots.
The proposal would make it more difficult to challenge Native American school mascots. Barbara Munson, who chairs the Wisconsin Indian Education Association's Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force, says she rarely uses the word 'racist' but that it applies to this legislation.
“When you put up barriers that are harmful to the education of an entire race of people, it's really hard to think of any other term,” she says. “We're teaching our students, all of our students that it's okay to tolerate race based stereotyping.”
Mike Hoffman, a Menominee tribal researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, also uses the word racist when talking about Indian mascots. “I equate some of them to the 'N' word when it comes to blacks.”
Carol and Harvey Gunderson cofounded Religious Americans Against Indian Nicknames and Logos in their hometown of Osseo.
“The bill is a racist bill,” says Carol Gunderson. “It teaches that it's okay to discriminate.”
“It's another example of the reason why Republicans have what's called a race problem,” says Harvey Gunderson.
Mike Mikalsen, chief of staff for Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), says the reaction is not justified. “It's unfortunate that whenever they disagree on this issue with others they throw the race card out.”
Mikalsen says the new bill would set up a policy to eliminate truly discriminatory racial behavior, but allow Indian logos to continue. “To have what Barbara Munson wants, which is just a complete ban, is not going to stand.,” says Mikalsen.
Mikalsen predicts that the new Republican mascot bill will be signed into law.