Should Native American nicknames and symbols be used at public schools? A Massachusetts lawmaker has introduced a bill that takes the fight to Beacon Hill.
The bill, which was filed by state Sen. Barbara L'Italien last Thursday, aims to end the use of Native American-inspired mascots, logos and names by public schools.
"This isn't just a town issue. It's a state issue and it's a national one," said Linda Thomas, a sponsor of the bill.
The bill is still in the beginning stages and has quite a ways to go in the legislative process before a decision is made. However, this proposed legislation is the latest chapter in a fierce debate between those who believe team names such as "Redmen" or "Redskins" and associated mascots are offensive and those who believe the names, mascots and symbols honor Native Americans.
"Once my children received some information from the school on ordering products, T-shirts and things, with Tewksbury Redmen on it, i started to question whether this was a good thing to keep promoting," Thomas said.
The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness said change is long overdue.
"Mascots keep us trapped in a false narrative and don’t show context or how we have evolved over 500 years," said Claudia Fox Tree. "The problem is that we aren’t able to share our own story in our own voices."
Nicknames not mentioned in the proposed bill include "Sachems" and "Warriors".