Tell the MA Senate Ways & Means Committee: Amend and Pass the Native American Mascots Bill!

The Joint Committee on Education voted the mascot bill favorably out of its committee to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This is a step forward in removing Native American mascots in Massachusetts; however, the Joint Committee weakened the bill by amending the text.

Instead of clearly prohibiting the use of Native American mascots in the Commonwealth, the amended bill now provides that “no public school uses an athletic team name, mascot, or logo which denigrates any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group.”

This new language severely weakens the bill by:  

• Erasing language specifying Native Americans avoids acknowledgement of racism directed towards them as a public health crisis.
• The word “denigrates” will cause confusion by being too subjective (especially since many non-Native people believe that these mascots “honor” Native Americans), and
• The phrase “any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group” is overly broad and contradicts the purpose and name of the bill, which is focused specifically on Native American mascots.

Additionally, many Native American Tribes and Nations and individual Native Americans located and living within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts support the original text and oppose the amended text.

Letters have been issued by the Chappaquiddick Tribe of the Wampanoag Nation, Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe/Nation, and Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to call for a prohibition on all Native American sport team mascots, logos, and nicknames in Massachusetts public schools:

Finally, the Joint Committee also removed paragraph 5 of the original bill, which recognized that Native Tribal Nations with their own sports teams should have the ability to choose their own mascots without limitation, as part of their right to self-determination.

We call on the Massachusetts State legislators to amend the language of Bill S.2593 “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth” back to its original language.