OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Legislature has approved a measure to ban the use of Native American names, symbols and images as school mascots, logos and team names at most public schools in Washington.
On a 90-8 vote, the House concurred Monday with changes made in the Senate. Once the measure is signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, the ban would take effect Jan. 1, 2022. Under the measure, school districts would have some time to phase out the mascot, team name or logo, but they would be required to select a new mascot by Dec. 31 to take effect by the end of the 2021-22 school year.
Starting in 2022, they would not be able to purchase uniforms that include the old mascot or name.
The ban does not apply to schools located on tribal lands or to schools in counties adjacent to Native American areas, as long as the nearest tribe is consulted and authorizes the use of the name.
The Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Schools estimates there are 35 schools in the state that currently use Native American names, symbols or images. A fiscal note attached to the bill notes that costs to school districts would vary based on the number of items that would need to be replaced, including sports and club uniforms, flags, banners and other materials. The proposed law creates a grant program to help support schools that incur costs related to the proposed change.
The bill was brought forward by the only Native American person in the state Legislature, Rep. Debra Lekanoff, D-Bow.