Oregon school keeps ‘Braves’ nickname in agreement with tribe

March 24, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Some states have forced public schools to abandon their Native American nicknames in recent years, but Oregon took a different approach. Win approval from one of the state’s tribes, and you can keep it.

The Banks School District outside of Portland is the first school to reach such an agreement, and as a result it will keep the “Braves” nickname it has held for more than 70 years, according to The Associated Press. Under the agreement, reached with the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, the district keeps the name but in turn will drop the “Indian head” image and establish curriculum that teaches the history of the Grand Ronde people.

The state Board of Education on Thursday approved the agreement, which took nearly two years to come together. 

From The AP:

The district’s new mascot, designed by the tribe and district with help from Nike, will now be two capital B’s aligned back-to-back and surrounded by a zig-zagging line. Viewed horizontally, the B’s look like a mountain range and symbolize the town’s location at the crossroads of coastal mountains and a fertile valley.

For the tribe, getting the district to update its curriculum was critical, said Reyn Leno, Grand Ronde tribal chairman.

“If we can educate people as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable at a young age, we hope down the road we won’t have mascot issues,” he said. “And at the end of the day, the derogatory images are off the gym floor.”

The article notes that eight of the state’s 15 districts using tribal mascots hope to strike a similar deal with a tribe. The Banks School District estimates it will spend nearly $95,000 to erase the “Indian head” logo from uniforms and facilities.

Districts using tribal mascots must either reach an agreement or drop their mascot by July 1. 

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