Ban On Native American School Mascots Debated At State House

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — A bill that would ban the use of Native American mascots in Massachusetts public schools headed to a public hearing at the State House on Tuesday.

The push comes after Tewksbury officials rebuffed efforts last year to change the name of their Redmen mascot.

tewksbury Ban On Native American School Mascots Debated At State House

Public forum on Tewksbury Redmen mascot held in January 2016 (WBZ-TV)

Parents appealed to state lawmakers, arguing the mascots perpetuate stereotypes and harm Native Americans.

“I’ve been called ‘Chief.’ I’ve even been called ‘Redskin’ in Massachusetts,” said Jason Packineau of Sudbury. “I know in the classroom there’s statistics and studies that show native mascots and their imagery cause bullying, they cause native youth to have a lower value of self esteem.”

mascotdebate Ban On Native American School Mascots Debated At State House

Jason Packineau of Sudbury. (WBZ-TV)

Rep. James Miceli, however, thinks the proposed bill is a case of political correctness gone too far.

“I have a hard time. I think that falls in the category of PC,” said Miceli.

Opponents say mascots become part of a school’s culture and aren’t intended to be demeaning.

billerica Ban On Native American School Mascots Debated At State House

The Billerica school mascot. (WBZ-TV)

Gene of Amesbury is of Narraganset Native American descent. He doesn’t believe a ban will help because it is avoiding the issue.

“One people, one country. This division must stop. This mascot business is nothing more than window-dressing, it is not a problem to me,” he said.

The bill heard Tuesday defines a Native American mascot as a “name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual, custom, or tradition that is used by a public school as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name.”

The bill gives specific examples, including “Redskins,” ”Savages,” ”Indians,” ”Chieftains,” ”Braves” or “Redmen.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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