ROGUE RIVER, Ore. — Some Oregon schools may be allowed to keep their Native American mascots. A new bill in the Oregon legislature would give schools the ability to keep those mascots, if they follow a series of steps.
The bill would let schools keep Native American mascots, signs, and names, but only if the school reaches an agreement with the closest tribal government in the area. This comes one year after the Oregon Board of Education ruled that schools with tribal mascots had to remove them by 2017.
At Rogue River High School, administrators already made changes to its Chieftans mascot when the ban was adopted last year. The school’s principal said the logo of a Native American face was replaced by a spear.
The school also used to have a man dressed as a tribal Chieftan at sporting events, but the principal says that was eliminated as well. He says the Chieftan name and heritage is important to the school’s tradition, and says students are taught about Native American culture. He said he wants to ensure that their mascots are used in a way that pays tribute to local tribes.
“The Chieftan mascot, the name, the tradition has always been used in a way to honor and respect the Native Americans and their culture, and it’s something our students and our community is proud of,” said Rogue River H.S. Principal Jesse Pershin.
The principal says if the bill passes, he is ready to work with local tribes to make sure they are in compliance with state laws. The Oregon Senate is set to vote on the bill on Wednesday.