State Board debates American Indian mascot resolution

The Associated Press
May 1, 2002 : 7:29 pm ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The State Board of Education will create a caring environment for American Indian students if it works to eliminate Indian mascots from high schools, a Lumbee Indian said Wednesday.

The board debated a resolution encouraging public schools to "educate themselves on the educational, curricular and psychological effects" of using such mascots. But the resolution wouldn't order the 20 or so high schools in the state with American Indian mascots to get rid of them.

The State Advisory Council of Indian Education, which recommended the resolution to the board, calls the nicknames demeaning and disrespectful to American Indians, their culture and heritage.

"It's not only an educational issue but a moral issue," Louise Maynor, a council member and North Carolina Central University English teacher, told the board. Maynor said American Indians are humiliated by the mascots.

"How can you learn when your self-esteem is on the floor?" Maynor asked.

The council advises the board on issues affecting the 18,000 American Indian students in the public schools.

Many of the education board members backed the resolution, saying people wouldn't put up if another ethnic group was portrayed with caricatures.

No vote was taken; the board likely will make a decision on the resolution next month.

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