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Indian mascot law may be repealed

UNDATED (WRN)   Wisconsin lawmaker wants Indian mascot law repealed.

A Republican lawmaker wants to repeal a law that forces Wisconsin schools to get rid of Indian team names and mascots if found to be discriminatory. “There shouldn’t be a problem,” repeats Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater). “There should not be a problem repealing it because the Republicans had blocked the law for a decade. It became law only because the Democrats controlled the entire legislature and had the governorship. Now it is back in our hands.”

Nass’s proposal comes after the Mukwonago School Board voted recently to ignore a state appeals court ruling which upheld the 2009 law, and keep using the school’s long-standing “Indians” nickname and logo.

Nass says the decision belongs in the hands of the school districts. “We had previously over the years more than 80 school districts with Indian names … they voluntarily decided to change them themselves in consultation with the people who elect the school boards. That’s where it belongs.” Nass continues, “It doesn’t belong in the hands of one individual, one citizen in the school district who happens to have a grudge. That was the case in Mukwonago, and his way of getting even with the school district.”

Current law gives the Department of Public Instruction the authority to order schools to remove Indian mascots, if someone files a complaint and a public hearing finds the moniker to be discriminatory. The offending school district would have to change the name or face fines of up to $1,000 a day.

Critics say such names are inappropriate, and they contribute to stereotypes and improper understandings of Indian culture. An individual or group could still seek recourse, Nass says, by appealing to local districts rather than the state.