Saturday April 14, 2001
  Find A Job   Find A Home   Find A Car   Classifieds

CT News
News from Raleigh
Census 2000
U.S./World News
Comics Links
USA Today
Mountain Travel Guide
Real Estate
Newcomers Guide
Contact Us

Commission on Civil Rights calls for the end of Indian nicknames in schools
By GREG TOPPO, AP Education Writer

WASHINGTON— Saying the use of Indian names and mascots may violate anti-discrimination laws, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights called for an end to their use by non-Indian schools, colleges and universities.

The group's recommendation   (Click here for full statement) Friday does not carry the weight of law, but Indian groups and others working to get schools to shed the names saw it as an endorsement of their effort.

"I think it’s a great step and it reflects a mood in the country that we are long overdue to pay serious attention to this issue," said Monroe Gilmour of the local Mascot Education Action Group, which fought against American Indian imagery at Buncombe County’s Erwin High School. "I think it will be difficult to ignore the most important civil rights organization in the country. Maybe this will make school administrators reflect on the pain they are causing many Native Americans."

The commission said Indian names and mascots could be viewed as "disrespectful and offensive" by Indian groups and can create "a racially hostile educational environment that may be intimidating to Indian students."

In February, the Buncombe County school board fulfilled obligations stemming from a 1999 civil rights settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over Indian imagery at Erwin. The board agreed to eliminate the use of the word "Squaw" as a mascot of girls sports teams, but boys teams have maintained the "Warrior" mascot for boys teams.

American Indian activists and others complain the mascots are disrespectful, asking schools to get rid of the names and mascots. Though hundreds of teams still use names such as Indians and Braves, many school districts, colleges and universities have changed their team names at the urging of Indian groups.

The civil rights commission’s recommendation does not apply to Indian schools. In Western North Carolina, sports teams at Cherokee High School on the Cherokee Indian Reservation are the "Braves."

Metro Editor Robyn Tomlin contributed to this report


American Indian Imagery at Erwin High School

The issue: The debate over American Indian sports mascots erupted locally during the 1997-98 school year when some parents, teachers and students at Erwin High School objected to the school’s use of the "warrior" and "squaw" for the boys and girls sports teams.

The investigation: The U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation into whether there was a "racially hostile environment" at Erwin, but dropped it in 1999 when it reached an agreement with the Buncombe County Board of Education.

The resolution: The school agreed to stop using the "squaw" as a mascot for girls teams, removed some symbols that were identified as offensive or disrespectful to American Indians and pledged to continue to incorporate American Indian cultural studies in the curriculum.


Back To Mascot Index Page
printable version of this article    email this article to a friend   
Printable Version    
Email to a Friend
For home delivery of the Asheville Citizen-Times, subscribe here.
© 2000 Asheville Citizen-Times
14 O Henry Ave., Asheville, NC 28801, Phone (828) 252-5611
Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Service
(updated April 21, 2000).