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Update on School Use of Native American Mascots & Logos

Update on School Use of Native American Mascots & Logos

Substitute House Bill 1356 was passed by the Washington State Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee in April 2021. This law prohibits the use of Native American names, symbols or images as public school mascots, logos or teams beginning Jan.1, 2022. The law requires school districts to engage in formal consultation with the nearest federally recognized tribes to ensure that their Native mascots actually honor the Native American community. If the tribes give authorization, the school can keep its mascot. If not, the school is required to change their mascot.

We want to inform the community about how this new law affects our school district and provide a status update. There are two schools in the district with Native American mascots and images in use: Kamiakin High School has the “Braves” mascot, and Legacy High School has the “Thunderbird” mascot.

Our goal as a district is to develop positive working relationships with our neighboring tribes. This involves consulting with neighboring tribes on tribal curriculum, as school districts are required to implement Since Time Immemorial Tribal Sovereignty in Washington State tribal curriculum. Having a positive relationship also means ensuring that Native mascots honor the Native American community.

In late spring 2021, the district reached out to the Yakama, Umatilla and Colville tribes for consultation. District and school administration recently met with the director of curriculum from the Umatilla tribe to discuss tribal curriculum. In addition, district and school administration recently met with the Yakama Tribal Council to present information on district curriculum implementation and to show the “Braves” and “Thunderbirds” mascots, logos, and imagery in use at Kamiakin and Legacy high schools. The tribal council shared their diverse feedback and perspectives on the mascot issue.

In order to continue to have the “Braves” and “Thunderbirds” as school mascots, the district would need to receive formal enactments or resolutions from neighboring tribes authorizing their continued use. We do not yet know whether the tribes will provide this authorization.

Therefore, in order to meet the legislative timeline and ensure compliance with the law, the district will begin formal processes in early November for renaming the mascots so we have contingency plans in place should authorization not be provided. Input processes will occur in the month of November and new mascots will be presented to the school board in December. If authorization to continue to use the mascots is received prior to Dec. 31, 2021, the mascots will remain in place.