Thursday, February 04, 2010

Colorado Lawmaker Turns Coward On Indian Mascot Bill


Racist Mascot of the Fightin Reds in Greeley, Colorado

Colorado Senator Suzanne Williams would no doubt object to this degrading image of sexual mascotization, but she has turned coward on confronting racial mascotization.





Colorado lawmaker to withdraw Indian-mascot bill
By Lynn Bartels
The Denver Post
Posted: 02/04/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 02/04/2010 02:14:36 AM MST

A state lawmaker plans to withdraw a bill that would legislate public high schools' use of American Indian mascots, saying she has already achieved her goal of igniting community discussions over whether the mascots are appropriate.

Sen. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, also said Wednesday that her measure isn't needed anymore because the Colorado Indian Education Foundation plans to work with schools that have Indian mascots.

"I fervently believe we can build on our knowledge and expand our appreciation of our Native American ancestors," said Williams, who is one-quarter Comanche.

Williams ignited a firestorm of controversy last month when she introduced a bill that would have required all public and charter high schools with Indian mascots to get approval from the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

Yuma High School pointed out that its mascot was changed in the 1920s from the Cornhuskers to the Chiefs to honor American Indians.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien said the commission didn't have the staff to handle mascot work.

And Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe of Greeley said mascots were an issue for local school boards and that the state had more pressing needs to worry about.

But Williams had her supporters, including Katherine Bauer, 78, whose seven children attended Eaton High School, home of the Reds. The school mascot features a large-nosed, scowling Indian in a loincloth and leather pants.

"I think it's very degrading to people whose land we are living on and we all enjoy," Bauer said Wednesday.

The Greeley Tribune on Sunday editorialized on the mascot, saying, "It's unfortunate Williams even had to introduce the legislation."

"It's time for the Reds to go," the editorial began.

Williams still must formally withdraw her bill during a committee hearing.

Senate Bill 107 included a provision that schools would be fined $1,000 a month if they used Indian mascots past July 2013 without commission approval. Williams said if she had proceeded with her bill, she would have stripped that provision.

Williams estimated about a dozen schools in Colorado have Indian "mascots" — a term defined in the bill as "a name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual custom or tradition." Among them: Lamar High School, home of the Savages, and Montbello High School, home of the Warriors.

"I introduced this bill because I feel very strongly that we need a conversation about the subtle discrimination between races and cultures," she said.

Lynn Bartels: 303-954-5327 or lbartels@denverpost.com

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