Race-Based School Logos at Lobby Day 2011

For WNPJ's 20th Anniversary, a grassroots lobby day was held on February 23, 2011.  Information that was developed for the lobby day and for ongoing advocacy regarding Race-Based School Mascots is found below.


Issue Backgrounder: Race-Based School Mascots


Last year, Wisconsin responded to mounting evidence of the negative impact of race-based “Indian” school mascots and logos on children and communities. Act 250 allows any resident of a school district to file a complaint with the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI). The DPI then determines whether the school’s mascot or logo is race-based. If it is, then the DPI holds a hearing to determine if the school mascot or logo promotes discrimination, harassment or stereotyping. If it is found to do so, then the school must change its mascot or logo, on a timeline that takes into consideration school conditions. Local residents have input throughout this process.
Currently, four legislators – Senators Mary Lazich and Neal Kedzie, and Representatives Steve Nass and Andre Jacque – are sponsoring legislation that would not only repeal Act 250, but also void all school name changes under the law. According to Rep. Nass, their bill “eliminates the ability of a resident to object to the use of such team names.”
We ask you to strongly oppose efforts to repeal Act 250, and support the current complaint process for race-based “Indian” school mascots and logos.
  • Race-based school mascots and logos have real impacts on children and communities. Ten years ago, a Stanford University study showed that race-based “Indian” mascots and logos have profound psychological impacts. After exposure to the logos, Native American students exhibited decreased self esteem, listed fewer achievement-related goals for themselves, and had greater doubts about their community’s ability to resolve problems. The American Psychological Association, among other professional groups, supports eliminating these types of racial stereotypes from school environments.
  • The previous complaint process put complainants at risk. Before Act 250, community members had to file complaints about school logos or mascots at the school district level. Often this led to discriminatory acts against the complainants and sometimes against Native American families in the area. It was these incidents that led the Wisconsin Indian Education Association to begin advocating for what became Act 250. The repeal bill now being proposed would leave community members even fewer options – and potentially place Native American families at even more risk – than the law in effect before Act 250.
  • Not good for business. Repealing Act 250 will not create any jobs. Moreover, it would normalize race-based stereotypes, putting students who need to prepare for the diverse environments of the global economy at a disadvantage. Lastly, repealing Act 250 would do a great disservice to the tribes that unanimously supported the law and the many contributions – social, cultural and economic – of Native communities to our state.
  • Changing school mascots or logos can easily be done. Thirty-two Wisconsin school districts have – at their own initiative or after the passage of Act 250 – successfully changed their logos and/or mascots. Often schools time the change to coincide with their regular turnover of team uniforms. Their communities adjust and are just as – if not more – proud of their schools and athletes. After all, the Super Bowl championship Green Bay Packers were once called the “Indians.”

  • Contact the “Indian” Mascot and Logo Taskforce of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association at www.IndianMascots.com
  • Check the WNPJ website for issue updates and action alerts: www.wnpj.org