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Countdown Continues For Oregon Schools With Indian-themed Mascots

Video still from grandronde.org
Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde

Efforts to end Native American mascots – or keep them, with local tribes’ approval – have left 16 Oregon school districts until July 1st to act.  KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.  

Recently, Rogue River High School in Grants Pass worked out a deal with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.  They can remain the “Chieftains”, if they incorporate more tribal history in its fourth and eighth grade curriculum.

Cindy Hunt of the Oregon Department of Education says twelve districts have either had mascots approved, are pending approval, or have dropped or changed them. 

“That leaves four school districts, for which we have heard nothing.  And all four of those districts are “Warriors”.  There’s Oakridge, Lebanon, North Douglas, and Lakeview.” 

Schools with “warriors” can keep the name, just not any Indian imagery. 

Justin Martin, a government liaison with the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, says they’ll gladly work with schools to properly honor – and therefore keep – Indian mascots.

Credit Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde
Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde
Former -and pending- mascots for Molalla Schools, as currently worked out with the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde.

“We'll sit down with the school district, sit down with the community, and go over why this imagery is offensive," says Martin.  "Why we should be teaching our students about specific tribes within their area.” 

If schools don’t comply with the Oregon State Board of Education by July, they stand to lose their funding.

WEB EXTRA: A summary of Oregon schools with Native American mascots and/or imagery (as of April 4, 2017)

In 2012 when the State Board took its original action, there were 15 districts identified as having Native American mascots.  Later, the Oregon Department of Education became aware of an additional district with an elementary school with a Native American mascot.

-4 school districts have changed (bolded below)

-2 school districts (Banks and Scappoose) have submitted agreements for approval to the state board, each of these districts have retained their mascot name but are changing the mascot image pursuant to the agreement

-6 school districts have submitted a notice to the state board that they are working with a tribe plus 1 other district has indicated they are working with a tribe.

1. Philomath – Siletz - notice

2. Banks – Grand Ronde – agreement submitted and approved

3. Roseburg – Cow Creek - notice 

Marcola's Mohawk mascot, which is being phased out this spring.

4. Siletz Valley Charter – Siletz - notice

5. Marcola – Grand Ronde – notice but has since changed mascot

6. Scappoose – Grand Ronde –agreement submitted, vote on approval in April

7. Molalla-Grand Ronde – notice

8. Warrenton- changed mascot just using Warrior name no image (rule allows for use of Warrior name)

9. The Dalles – changed mascot – now Riverhawks

10. Reedsport Braves- changed mascot, no longer using name or image.

11. Oakridge Warriors

12. Amity Warriors – notice

13. Lebanon Warriors

14. North Douglas Warriors

15. Rogue River Chieftains – notice

16. Lakeview Warriors

Source: Office of the Deputy Superintendent, Oregon Dept. of Education

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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