Indian mascot issue more controversial in Wisconsin than Minnesota

Here’s a flyer being handed out this evening at the Vikings-Washington Redskins game at the Metrodome. It was put together by Dr. Melissa Lewis, a professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth School of Medicine. (h/t: JP Rennquist)

(Dr. Melissa Lewis)

Does the use of an Indian mascot harm children’s health? The American Psychological Association said so in a 2005 resolution calling for the retirement of the mascots.

Research has shown that the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities has a negative effect on not only American Indians students but all students by:

Undermining the educational experiences of members of all communities-especially those who have had little or no contact with Indigenous peoples. The symbols, images and mascots teach non-Indian children that it’s acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions about American Indian culture.

Establishes an unwelcome and often times hostile learning environment for American Indians students that affirms negative images/stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society.

According to Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, University of Arizona, this appears to have a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children. “American Indian mascots are harmful not only because they are often negative, but because they remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them. This in turn restricts the number of ways American Indians can see themselves.”

Undermines the ability of American Indian Nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality, and traditions. Many American Indians report that they find today’s typical portrayal of American Indian culture disrespectful and offensive to their spiritual beliefs.

Presents stereotypical images of American Indians
Such mascots are a contemporary example of prejudice by the dominant culture against racial and ethnic minority groups.

Is a form of discrimination against American Indian Nations that can lead to negative relations between groups.

“We know from the literature that oppression, covert and overt racism, and perceived racism can have serious negative consequences for the mental health of American Indian and Alaska native (AIAN) people. The discontinued use of American Indian mascots is a gesture to show that this kind of racism toward and the disrespect of, all people in our country and in the larger global cext, will not be tolerated,” said Dr. Lisa Thomas, APA Committee on Ethnic and Minority Affairs.

The issue is more focused in Wisconsin than Minnesota, which is only considering it because a football team is in town.

In Wisconsin, current law allows a resident of a school district with a school that has a race-based nickname to file a complaint in which the school district must prove a federally recognized tribe has given its blessing to the logo and name.

That’s about to change. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Senate passed a bill that weakens the law by requiring a person to get the signatures of 10 percent of the school district student population to trigger a state review.

“If it’s not OK to call me a ‘nigger,’ if it’s not OK to call Chinese ‘chinks,’ and it’s not OK to call gay people ‘faggots,’ why is it OK for my brothers and sisters who are Native American to be called ‘redskins,’ ‘Indians’ and ‘savages?’ It’s not OK,” State Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee said, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

The bill, which passed Tuesday by one vote on a party-line tally, now goes to Gov. Walker.

Related: You Should Meet: Jeff Ryan

Bill protecting race-based school mascots would undo Prescott students’ work.