NIEA Resolution passes,calling for the elimination of race-based Indian logos & mascots

Press release from the Wisconsin Indian Education Association 'Indian' Mascot and Logo Taskforce 10/26/09. The  National Indian Education Association calls for immediate elimination of race-based Indian logos, mascots, and names from educational institutions throughout the nation.

The resolution was passed at the NIEA's 40th annual national convention, which was held in Milwaukee October 22-25. The NIEA is our nation's oldest and largest Indian education organization. 

NIEA works to increase educational opportunities and resources for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students while protecting cultural and linguistic traditions.Contact: Barbara Munson, Chair (715) 571-9296, Barb@Munson.net.


Like hundreds of other educational, professional, and human rights organizations such as the National Education Association, the American Psychological Association and the NAACP, the NIEA has adopted resolutions about this issue in past years.


NIEA concluded that in recent years there has been enough change to warrant a new resolution, in light of current issues, recent scientific findings, and national sentiment continuing to move toward a more diverse society. 

 

 The convention also included sessions investigating current scientific research, by Dr. Stephanie A. Fryberg, University of Arizona, which shows that exposure to race-based Indian stereotypes harms American Indian Students.

The resolution was presented to NIEA by the Wisconsin Indian Education Association “Indian” mascot and Logo Taskforce.  

Michele LaRock, Chairperson, of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association affirmed the resolution and the efforts of the taskforce stating, “It’s wonderful that people are standing up for our children.  Because that’s the bottom line of our sovereignty, protecting our most valuable resource - our children, our future.”

 

Nearly 30 school districts in Wisconsin have changed a race-based Indian logo, mascot or team name in recent years and AB35/SB25, a bill authored by Representative Jim Soletski and Senator Spencer Coggs to improve the process by which school districts navigate challenges to their use of these images, is moving through the legislative process in Wisconsin.

Students from several UW-system campuses attended the conference. After speaking in support of passing the resolution from the convention floor, Palmer Hall (NE Winnebago) a student at UW-LaCrosse, said; “I came to the conference for enlightenment - I was engaged with fulfilling, inclusive involvement.”  Dr. Lisa Poupart (Lac du flambeau Ojbiwe) Chair, First Nations Studies at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay stated, “This is a crucial moment as NIEA passes this resolution.  It signifies that, like the First Nations Studies program at UWGB, American Indian educators across the US agree that race-based stereotypes and images are harmful to our children and no longer have a place in our schools.”

 

Richie Plass (Menominee and Stockbridge/Munsee) Curator/Caretaker of “Bittersweet Winds,” a travelling educational display about Indian stereotyping had the display up throughout the convention stated, “This resolution passed and supported by NIEA [points to] the importance of policy in eliminating the mascots and logos.  As our traditions teach us, ‘united we stand.’ And we will continue our work to keep our names and images in strong, historical correctness.”

This is a national issue in Indian education with approximately two-thirds of Indian mascots and logos having been retired in recent years. Barbara Munson (Oneida), Chair of the Wisconsin taskforce stated “Indian educators have been in the forefront of change. Our native scholars are conducting research studies and providing educational advocacy across the nation.” Currently the issue is being contended on the collegiate level at the University of North Dakota and Suzan Shown Harjo’s long-standing case against the Washington NFL team is soon to be presented before the US Supreme Court. “The issue of race-based stereotypes of Indian people is being addressed throughout our nation on many levels and it affects all of us.” Munson states.