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Friday, June 06, 2003
Here they go again...

Assembly debates bill ending use of Indian names as mascots


Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - As one lawmaker warbled his alma mater, the state Assembly on Thursday heatedly debated a bill that would bar California public schools from using Indian names as their mascots unless they had permission from a nearby tribe.

The measure, by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, fell six votes short of approval on a first roll call, but supporters used a parliamentary maneuver to delay announcing the vote as they hunted for additional support and the Assembly worked on other legislation. A similar bill by Goldberg failed in the Assembly last year.

The bill would bar schools from using redskins, Indians, braves, chiefs, papooses, or any Indian tribal name as a nickname or mascot unless they had an agreement with a nearby tribe to use the name. It also would prohibit schools from using warriors or sentinels if those names were accompanied by Indian imagery.

To save money, the bill would allow schools that dropped Indian names to continue to use their old sports uniforms and insignia until they wore out.

Bill supporters said the names and, sometimes the way they are used, are insulting to Indians.

"You do not have to have racist intent to have racist outcome," Goldberg said.

Assemblyman John Longville, D-Rialto, asked opponents how they would react if a team was nicknamed the Darkies instead of the Redskins.

"They both refer to someone by skin color," he said. "This is tremendously insulting to call a team the Redskins. I'm amazed that no one in the opposition recognizes how insulting it is."

But opponents labeled the bill trivial and said schools choose Indian names to give their teams a sense of toughness and pride, not to insult Indians.

"Nobody wants to run on the field saying we're the Sacramento Marshmallows or we're the Sacramento Slugs," said Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, who said he was part Cherokee.

"When I hear the word Cherokee I don't see it as a demeaning factor. I see it as a matter of pride."

Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, whose high school's nickname was the Apaches, sang his school song to protest the bill.

He said the school, Arcadia High, near Los Angeles, had permission from an Apache tribe in Arizona to use the name.

"You people are so messed up it is just beyond description," he told bill supporters.

Thursday, June 05, 2003