We are stunned at the complete lack of appreciation for cultural diversity shown by the Oregon Board of Education in attempting to pass a resolution banning schools using Native American names and symbols.
We have received an email from the Confederate Tribes of the Grande Ronde which states “Native American Mascots are something that need to be addressed individually by each of the nine federally recognized Tribes in Oregon as it applies to their homelands. It is not something Grand Ronde feels needs to be addressed by a blanket. “As for Grand Ronde, we have schools in our area who have contacted us over the years about their Native mascots and we’ve worked with them to help them portray Native culture in a respectful and honorable manner. We have not had an issue with any mascots in our area. We offer ourselves as a resource to all schools in our area who would like our assistance in making sure their mascot, if Native themed, portrays the Tribe of Record (Grand Ronde) in an honorable and sensitive way."
National surveys have shown in recent years that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are not offended by the use of Native American names and symbols. In making its decision, the executive committee has been swayed by a strident minority of activists who claim to speak for all Native Americans. It is unconscionable that the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians and others have been ignored.
The rules as we understand them would have us cover the names and symbols as if we were embarrassed, and any committee that would think that is a proper and respectful treatment of Native Americans should be ashamed.
The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree.
There has been a proposal for a change in the resolution to allow the Tribe of Record to make the decision on whether the mascot is acceptable. We propose that, at the very least, this reolution is included in the resolution.