Press Releases

Bill to stop use of American Indian mascot names thwarted

By Stefanie Frith, The Associated Press
Wednesday May 29, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Public schools will be allowed to keep American Indian team names and mascots after the Assembly defeated a bill Tuesday that would have forced schools to give up the names. 

After hours of debate the bill, written by Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, was defeated on a 35 to 29 vote. 

The measure would have required name changes at elementary, middle and high schools as well as community colleges and state universities. Schools on reservations would have been spared. 

Decisions are usually made by individual schools and critics said it should stay that way. 

“Is it the business of the state of California to take measures to ensure that no group is ever offended by the activities of another group?” asked Assemblyman Dick Dickerson, R-Redding. 

Supporters such as Goldberg said it is a question better resolved at the state level because Indian mascots promote a hostile learning environment, as well as gender and racial division. 

“Civil rights are not a matter of local control,” she said, “they are a matter of simple dignity.” 

Under the measure, about 100 California schools would have been forced to change names.  

Assemblyman David Cogdill, R-Modesto, said the bill should not have been brought before the Legislature. He said schools have long had Indian mascots and generations of students have been proud to identify with the names. 

“They have chosen to honor them,” he said.