Mascot overreach

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board May 16, 2012 09:44 am

The Oregon Board of Education might decide on Thursday to require 15 public high schools to do away with their mascots or logos, by 2017, because the symbols are associated with Native Americans.

We hope board members choose not to impose this one-size-fits-all edict on schools with mascots such as Warriors, Braves and Indians.

This is not to say that the concern which motivated the board’s discussion — that such symbols are offensive to some Native Americans — is trivial.

We don’t endorse mascots that demean, belittle or stereotype Indians.

So far as we can tell, none of the 15 schools intends to do so. Which is hardly surprising — mascots, after all, are sources of school and community pride, not ridicule.

The more compelling argument against a statewide ban, though, comes not from the schools, but from tribal members.

Steve Bobb Sr., a member of the Tribal Council for the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde in Western Oregon, said his tribe doesn’t oppose using Native American names or symbols in schools that “hold their mascots in a very high regard.”

Which is precisely where every high school we know of holds its mascot.