Protecting Oregon Students From Discrimination

February 8, 2017

Oregon once again finds itself in a battle over discrimination and protecting Oregon students. This isn’t my opinion, it’s based on research.

Three different studies which can be found on my Mascots page, prove that the use of Native American mascots, names, logos and images not only discriminate, whether intended to or not, and cause negative lasting impacts on Native American students, but at the same time negatively empowers their fellow white students.

Some people fighting to keep these mascots want you to believe they are meant to honor Native American people and in order to prove it they are willing to support working with Native American tribes to educate everyone on Native American history. The problem with this isn’t that it’s a wonderful effort, but it’s that we don’t need to humiliate, discriminate and desecrate an entire group of people while we are educating others on their history.

They are two separate issues and we don’t need to continue to use mascots that are historically and culturally inaccurate and insulting to Native American people, in order to educate others about their culture and history.
This session 2017 the Oregon legislature will see another bill aimed and eliminating the use of Native American mascots in schools and upholding the Oregon Board of Education’s 2012 5-1 vote: https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SB350

When this effort first began in 2006 it was brought to the attention of adults by two Native American students Che Butler and Luhui White bear. They testified that the use of these images and the discriminatory actions by fellow students was having a negative impact on them. The board made recommendations in that year 2006 to eliminate the use of Native American Mascots and approved a plan, but the plan was never implemented.

In 2012, we lobbied the Oregon Board of Education to eliminate the use of these mascots and follow through with the recommendations. They voted 5-1 to eliminate the mascots. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMOUxmNzxag

Since then legislatures have overturned the vote and myself and a group of students stand ready to sue the state of Oregon for violation of ORS : https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/659.850 “discrimination” means any act that unreasonably differentiates treatment, intended or unintended, or any act that is fair in form but discriminatory in operation, either of which is based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age or disability. “Discrimination” does not include enforcement of an otherwise valid dress code or policy, as long as the code or policy provides, on a case-by-case basis, for reasonable accommodation of an individual based on the health and safety needs of the individual.

2017 is the year all schools must follow the board’s 2012 vote. We hope they will move towards compliance while at the same time continue the education piece. If not, we will bring a law suit against the state of Oregon.

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