One down; 49 more to go.
Maine has become the first state in the country to ban the use of Native American mascots at any of its public schools, colleges or universities. Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, signed the ban into law last week, and it will go into effect 90 days after the state Legislature adjourns, CNN reports.
“While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish,” Mills said.
Maulian Dana, the tribal ambassador for the Penobscot Nation in Maine, told the New York Times that the new law “sends a message of truth and honor and respect.”
“It is part of a big picture of historical oppression of indigenous people,” she said. “When you see people as less than people, you treat them accordingly. That actually points to the very core of it, is that they make us invisible and turn us into stereotypes.”
The National Congress of American Indians, a public education and advocacy group, told the Times it applauded Maine’s move and hoped other states would follow “on the right side of history.”
Now, if we could just get that football team in Washington, D.C. to do the right thing.