Nebraska bill proposed would help schools discontinue use of Native American mascots

Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 6:04 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There are 22 schools across the state of Nebraska that use Native American mascots to cheer on their athletic teams.

Senator Megan Hunt introduced LB 1027 which would give each school up to $200,000 to discontinue the use of American Indian mascots.

With a statewide budget of $4.4 million, Sen. Hunt says that money would be for schools that decided to make the change to rebrand.

“You have to change the scoreboard, you have to repaint the field...there’s a lot of cost with this kind of thing,” said Hunt.

Those who spoke in favor of the bill say this is not an effort to be politically correct.

“When you hear politically correctness, it is an attempt to make something political that really a larger narrative and the way that we treat groups that are not the dominant group. These mascots are symbols and it’s assumed that symbols don’t have real-world consequences for living people. This is incorrect,” said Darren Wolfe, Omaha Tribe member.

But there was plenty of discussion at today’s education committee hearing.

Members from the Nebraska State Education Association said the use of Native American mascots undermines the educational experiences of all communities.

“It establishes an unwelcome and often hostile learning environment for American Indian students that affirms negative images and stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society. It appears to harm the self-esteem of American Indian children,” said Jacquelle Lane, NSEA.

6 News talked to Bellevue Public Schools about the proposal, they are aware of the bill and they’re monitoring the situation. They had no comment today and say any decision-making would be at the school board level.

6 News also talked to superintendent of Yutan Public Schools and he says he’s aware of the discussion and that this is a sensitive matter, and right now they prefer to not talk about it.

“Mascots are yet another way, play Indian and mock Native song and dance.”

Those who spoke in favor of LB 1027 testified that this proposal is more than just a game.

“LB 1027 is not an effort to make Nebraskans feel bad, it’s about allowing us to walk into the future together with no dehumanizing perspective then we can really grow together and change Nebraska,” said Wolfe.

There were a few letters in opposition that were sent to the committee.

The issue is not new to our area, Millard South High School changed its mascot from Indians to Patriots in 2000 and UNO changed from Indians to Mavericks in 1971.

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