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State lawmakers unveil new school mascots legislation

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MADISON (WITI) -- Some Republican lawmakers in Madison have announced a permanent solution in regards to school mascots in Wisconsin. If the plan goes through, the Mukwonago Indians would get to keep their nickname.

As part of the GOP proposal, the following would be required to object to a school board’s use of a race-based nickname, logo, mascot or team name.

  • A petition with signatures from school district residents that would need to equal at least 10 percent of the school district’s student population.
  • The signatures must be obtained within the 120-day period before the complaint is filed.
  • A hearing would be held by the Department of Administration’s Division of Hearings and Appeals.
  • The burden of proof would be placed on the complainant.

The proposal would also expand the opportunity for collaboration and partnership between tribes and school districts on nickname and logos.

Attorney Samuel C. Hall, Jr. helped craft the legislation on behalf of Mukwonago High School.

"All this proposal is going to do is it levels the playing field so that the school districts have a fair shot," said Hall. "The problem with this current law is that it takes one person to start this process that you're going to have an inevitable outcome where the school is forced to change its nickname."

A judge has already ruled that the school can no longer use its long-standing nickname.

Robert Munson of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association's Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force says he's not surprised by the new strategy.

"They're going to do whatever they can do somehow perpetuate these racist mascots and logos," said Munson. "It's a racist attitude and racist attitudes can't be put up to a popular vote. It's either right or it's wrong."

Among those behind this proposal are Rep. David Craig (R - Big Bend), Rep. Steve Nass (R - Whitewater) and Sen. Mary Lazich (R - New Berlin).

The legislation will be considered by the Legislature within the coming weeks.

2 comments

  • Charley

    My brother is 100% Chippewa Indian and I am white and I have never heard one person or one of his family members complain about any team name being offensive. Teams use those names to show respect to the Native American culture. I think white people are making the bigger deal about this and just feel guilty and want to try and save face.

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