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Native American mascot controversy: Washington state asks schools to stop using Indian names

The Washington State Board of Education has passed a resolution urging school districts to stop using Native American mascots.

Florida seminoles 2012 09 30Enlarge
The Florida State Seminoles mascot cheers before a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., on Sept. 17, 2011. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Washington State Board of Education has passed a resolution urging school districts to stop using Native American mascots, the Olympian reported.

Currently, 50 schools across the state, including some tribal schools, have Native American-inspired mascots and sports team names such as Warriors, Braves, Redskins and Red Devils, the Olympian reported.

The school board cited recent research conducted by Stephanie Fryberg, an associate professor of Social and Cultural Psychology at the University of Arizona, and the American Psychological Association which found negative psychological consequences for Indian students when Native American mascots are used, ABC News reported.

Over the past decade, 10 Washington state schools have voluntarily retired their Native American mascots, according to ABC News. But other schools have resisted, even when local tribes requested a name change.

According to ABC News:

In 1997, The Colville Indians asked the Colville High School Indians to use another name, but the school refused, saying the mascot was part of its legacy.

Fourteen universities stopped using Native American names after the National Collegiate Athletic Association banned universities that had Native American logos, mascots, nicknames from hosting post-season competitions in 2006, ABC News reported. The NCAA allowed four college teams, including the Florida State University Seminoles and the Central Michigan University Chippewas to keep their nicknames after Native American groups endorsed them, according to ABC News.

Oregon's state Board of Education banned Native American mascots, nicknames and logos from its schools this May, the Olympian reported. Schools that don’t comply within five years may lose state funding.

In Washington, however, the school board does not have the authority to ban the Native American names, so schools can ignore the request with no consequences, according to the Olympian.

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