Will Kennewick’s Kamiakin High School Undergo a Mascot Change?
It might be time to come up with, or at least start thinking about, a new Kamiakin High School mascot name, if a bill introduced in the Washington state legislature passes.
House Bill 1356 seeks to ban Native American names, symbols and images for use as public school mascots, logos or team names, as of next January 1, 2022.
Proponents of the bill contend the degradation of Native American people must stop. Using their symbols and names singles out Native Americans for derision and cultural appropriation, failing to respect the heritage of Native Americans.
The ban would not apply to schools located within Native American areas. Washington State has 29 tribes.
The bill was introduced by state Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow, an Alaska Native who is Tlingit and Aleut. During a public hearing on the bill last week before the House Education Committee, she said, "Native Americans are not animals. They are people. We do not feel honored in any way."
The National Congress of American Indians says there are about 1,900 schools nationwide that continue to use tribal mascots. But there are only 31 in Washington state who do, one of those being the Kamiakin High School Braves.
Backers of the bill say moving the issue to the high school level is important for the self esteem of Native American children and the days of it being acceptable to see a white student wearing Native American regalia and war paint, shouting and running around at a sporting event, are over.
Ivy Pete, a student at North Central High School in Spokane, and a member of the Pyramid Lake-Paiute Tribe of northern Nevada, says such mascots do not actually honor individual tribes, rather they dehumanize Native Americans, erase the history of genocide and parody what indigenous people look like.
Bill Kallappa, a member of the State Board of Education and an educational liaison for the Nisqually Tribe, said the state board supported the bill.
“Let's get this bill passed so we can put mascots in our past," he said.