Mascot issue won't go away

Monday, April 10, 2006

While the issue of migrant workers is in the spotlight, another immigration issue has come up again.

This one, however, involves those who were already here when members of the European majority now in charge of the country were unwanted immigrants themselves.

The issue of team mascots using Native American themes may not carry the weight, right now, that the illegal immigrant question does. But it's an issue that won't go away, and one we need to address.

Speaking to the State Board of Education members Thursday, a member of the Winnebago tribe compared Native mascots to a bully that never goes away, according to an account in the Lincoln Journal Star.

Just because a mascot has been widely accepted for years, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be changed, tribe member Frank LaMere said, asking the board to think of the Native American children.

"It's hard to fight that bully that everybody buys into, that collective bully brought about and perpetuated by the use of mascots and imagery," he said.

Those images, however, however, are important because they unite Native people.

State Education Commissioner Doug Christensen said the department will take the issue seriously and come back with a report and a timeline.

Team mascots are an important part of school tradition, and changing them is nothing to be taken lightly. A mascot is one of those issues that can divide a community -- and even a family.

But as we've said before, they should be fun -- for everyone involved in the school experience, especially the students.

Dealing with the Native American mascot issue is one of those areas where the state needs to take a strong leadership role.

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