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Maine becomes first state to ban Native American mascots

May 21, 2019 /
The Maine legislature last week unanimously passed a bill that bans the use of Native American mascots at public schools, colleges and universities.

Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill into law on Thursday, and it goes into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns. Specifically, the bill prevents institutions from having or adopting “a name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to a Native American tribe, individual, custom or tradition and that is used as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead or team name of the school.”

“While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish,” Mills said in a press release. “A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of pride. Our people, communities, and understanding and respect for one another are Maine’s source of pride and it is time our symbols reflect that.”

In March, the Skowhegan school board voted to discontinue its district’s use of the “Indians” mascot. Skowhegan was Maine’s last school district using the name. Residents had petitioned to reinstate the name, but state law now would prevent such action.

“We recognize this day as the start of a higher trust of promoting cultural diversity and awareness in place of any continuous social injustices towards one another,” said Representative Rena Newell of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. “Today and for now on, it is our collective responsibility to the next generations to promote each other as equals, as individuals, and most importantly as neighbors.”

Read more from the Bangor Daily News.

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