Bill allows schools, such as Scappoose, to keep Native American mascots after tribal blessing

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - State Sen. Betsy Johnson said that she has seen no opposition to SB215 by local tribes. The Oregon Legislature passed a bill Monday, July 1, that would allow Oregon schools with Native American mascots to continue the use of their logos and names. The bill passed despite last year’s Oregon Board of Education decision to ban the use of Native American mascots in the state’s schools by 2017. Schools that did not comply would risk losing all or part of state funding to the school district.

The bill, Senate Bill 215, would allow for school districts, such as Scappoose School District, to enter into agreements with federally recognized tribes in order to keep their mascots. The bill passed 41-19 in the House last week and 25-5 in the Senate.

Although both votes have presumably veto-proof margins, Gov. Kitzhaber said he plans to veto the bill for having stipulations that are too broad.

Scappoose School District Superintendent Stephen Jupe said he believes the issue should be kept at a local level. “Local control in this kind of case, where community values are involved, is important,” he said.

Jupe said he has heard no complaints from the community in regard to the Scappoose High School mascot — the Indians.

“There have been some areas of apathy, and I have also come across quite animated support of it,” he said. “Why does the state feel that it needs to get involved in this kind of decision?”

State Sen. Betsy Johnson said she has supported the bill at every opportunity and believes that the bill can be used to show respect to tribes. The bill would also require athletic directors and school staff to take cultural diversity training, Johnson said.

“We have provided a pathway for the school board to enter into an agreement with the closest federally recognized tribes to identify an appropriate mascot,” Johnson said.

Karyn Quigley, of the Legislative Commission on Indian Services, said the two federally recognized tribes with ancestral ties to Scappoose are the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz.

Jupe said he has not calculated how much a rebranding process would cost should the school’s mascot be disapproved, but added that it would require the absorption of funds from other important areas.

“At a time when resources are really short in supply, this in an asinine use of resources,” he said. “Some students won’t get the learning opportunities they would be getting.”

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