Policies and decisions about public school mascots, logos, and team names are determined at the local school district or building level.
The State Board of Education has twice adopted resolutions related to Native American mascots. A 2012 resolution directed districts to discontinue the use of Native American mascots. A 1993 resolution asked all school districts to review building names, mascots, logos, activities, events, portrayal of caricatures, and behaviors to ensure that such references and activities were free from bias and derogatory connotations or effects associated with race, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, and disability.
There are 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington. Tribes are recognized by federal law as sovereign governments with inherent powers of self-governance, including the power to regulate within tribal territory and certain immunities from state authority.
Unless specified requirements are met, beginning January 1, 2022, public schools may not use Native American names, symbols, or images as school mascots, logos, or team names.
The prohibition does not apply to public schools located within, or with enrollment boundaries that include a portion of, "Indian country," as the term is defined in federal law, or public schools in a county that contains all or part of a tribal reservation or tribal trust lands, if the tribe or tribes having regulatory jurisdiction over the territory within that boundary have:
Additionally, a public school that does not meet the geographic requirements for a potential exemption to the prohibition may be exempted from the prohibition if:
A public school may use uniforms or other materials after January 1, 2022, bearing Native American names, symbols, or images as mascots, logos, or team names if the uniforms or materials were purchased before January 1, 2022, and if:
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction must create and administer a grant program to provide transitional support grants to school districts to support schools that incur costs resulting from complying with the general prohibition on using Native American names, symbols, or images as school mascots, logos, or team names. The grant program expires August 31, 2023.
The grant funds may be used for the replacement or redesign of items and materials that display Native American names, symbols, or images, including:
If funding for the grant program is not provided in the omnibus appropriations act by June 30, 2021, the grant program is null and void.
(In support) Native American regalia are intertwined with their culture and laws. The regalia has deep meaning, is passed through the generations, and is the very essence of who Native Americans are. When Native Americans see others using their regalia, sometimes in mockery, it is disrespectful of the people and culture. Native Americans are not animals, they are people and deserving of respect. The state has an opportunity to make history with this legislation. There are 31 schools using real or imagined Native American names. School funding restrictions should be used as an incentive to promote changes. The use of Native American mascots is both hurtful and ongoing. Passing this bill is the correct thing to do for present and future generations and will honor Native Americans.
The bill will strengthen collaborations between schools and tribes.
The State Board of Education has adopted resolutions on the issues of this bill and the State Board of Education's support for those resolutions is ongoing. The consultation component of the bill is especially important. The bill needs to be passed so that mascots can be in the past.
Schools continue to use images of Native Americans in schools, including images that are comparable to extinct and caged animals. This bill will help mend broken relationships between Native Americans and schools. No student or group of students should be asked to carry the burden of inaccurate and hurtful images. The mascot images that are used in schools are a conglomeration of inaccurate images.
This bill will correct an issue that should have been fixed years ago. Inaccurate and harmful images create real pain and harm for students. This bill will empower Native American cultures.
Professional sports teams have had names that appear to be disrespectful to people. If the professional teams can change their names, so can schools in Washington.
The dehumanization of Native Americans is far from uncommon. Native Americans are not costumes or warriors. Native Americans are survivors of 500 years of colonial racism and genocide. When youth see images portraying Native Americans as killing machines, their self-esteem is lowered. Suicide rates are high among Native Americans.
The use of Native American names on places that are not Native American owned or operated is disrespectful. The disrespect that Native American mascots convey is not being taught to students. Culture is not a costume. Honor is not given through taking.
The use of Native American mascots is dehumanizing. Doing the right thing is important, even if it is not easy.
(Opposed) The bill may impact blossoming relationships between schools and tribes. Some districts may be inadvertently excluded from the bill. The bill should be modified to allow a school to work with a tribe, regardless of county boundaries. Schools would like to have an opportunity for authentic engagement with tribes.