Via Eaton teacher: Gov. Hickenlooper’s Native American mascot commission brings stakeholders together

An excerpt:

Eaton High School is one of a few dozen Colorado high schools that features either a Native American nickname or mascot. The school has weathered protests and been in legislators’ cross hairs, including a failed bill this past year that would have cut state funding from schools with nicknames or mascots deemed offensive by a special task force.

That failed bill led to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s commission to discuss Native American mascots in Colorado’s schools. One of the commission’s 15 appointed members is Eaton High School teacher Deirdre Jones. Jones teachers literature and journalism at Eaton, and has taught at Eaton for 14 years.

As part of the commission, Jones has volunteered to travel to various cities this spring for a series of open forums. The next forum is Jan. 14 at Loveland High School.

The commission, unlike the failed bill this past year, features no strings or punishments.

Question — How did you end up on the governor’s commission?

Answer — I was appointed by the governor upon recommendation of the commission leaders. I was exploring the commission after some of my students asked if there was a possibility it might come (to) Eaton, and I filled out an application online. I never considered I would actually be chosen.

Q — Does it feel as though there is room for compromise?

A — This is a question that comes from a wrong premise because it implies there is a position or agenda that the commission is proposing. The entire purpose of the commission is to listen to feedback from the community concerning the mascot issue as well as their own mascot, to collect those comments, views, opinions, suggestions and to represent those voices and ideas back to the governor at the end of April.

Q — What do you hope to get out of this?

A — I get to hear that discussion. I will be doing something I always lecture my students to do: actually taking part in something they care about. I don’t want to be the teacher that retires saying, “I wish I had…” I decided that if I am going to be the type of teacher who asks my students to “walk the walk” regarding issues they see in society, then I have to do the same thing. I can’t ask them to get involved in their communities and world, to invest themselves in something they believe in, to be willing to “sail against the current of their times,” and then just sit behind my desk and expect them to do it. It is hypocritical, and American literature is filled with authors who take hypocrites to task.

To read the entire article, click here.

Colorado House Education Committee passes a bill to limit Native American mascots

Here is an article from the Boulder Daily Camera on this.  Here and here are other articles. We previously posted about this here, where you can see the actual bill.   Matthew Campbell, a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund, testified on TEDNA’s behalf in support of the bill.  You can see his testimony here.  An excerpt:

Studies also show that the continued use of American Indian mascots is harmful to all students, not just American Indian students. Schools take on the role of educating and influencing students. By using American Indian mascots, schools are teaching students that stereotyping minority groups is an acceptable practice, further legitimizing discrimination against American Indians. These images perpetuate misrepresentations portraying American Indians as a “culture of people frozen in time.”For many non Indian students with little contact with Indigenous peoples, a mascot may be the only Indian encounter they have in their lives. Non-Indian students come to rely on these stereotypes to inform their own understanding of American Indians’ place in society, often times leading to discriminatory behavior.

Colorado House Bill 15-1165 – Concerning the Use of American Indian Mascots by Public Institutions of Education

Here is CO HB 15-1165.  The Summary:

The bill establishes the subcommittee for the consideration of the use of American Indian mascots by public schools (subcommittee) and requires the subcommittee to evaluate and approve or disapprove the use of American Indian mascots by public schools and public institutions of higher education (public schools) within the state. The subcommittee is repealed, effective September 1, 2025. Before such repeal, the department of regulatory agencies shall review the subcommittee.

The bill requires each public school that uses an American Indian mascot to either cease using the mascot or request approval for the continued use of the mascot or another American Indian mascot from the subcommittee. If a public school receives notice from the subcommittee that the school’s use of an American Indian mascot has been disapproved, the public school shall cease using the mascot on or before the date 2 years following such notice.

For each month in which a public school uses an unapproved American Indian mascot after such date, a fine of $25,000 shall be paid to the state treasurer by:

  • The school district of the offending public school;
  • The state charter school institute if the offending school is an institute charter school; or
  • The public school itself if the public school is a public institution of higher education.

The bill creates the American Indian mascot fund (fund). A public school whose mascot is disapproved by the subcommittee may apply for a grant of moneys from the fund to pay for new uniforms, new decor, new letterhead, and such other modifications as are necessitated by the public school’s change of mascot.

HB 15-1165 is scheduled to be heard in front of the Colorado House Education Committee on March 23.  The Bill can be monitored here.

Colorado In-State Tuition Bill

Last year a Bill was introduced to provide in-state tuition to Native Americans from tribes with historical ties to Colorado.  We posted on it here, here, and here.  We also offered testimony in support of the bill, which can be seen here.  Unfortunately, the bill did not pass.

However, the bill has again been introduced and is scheduled to be heard in the Colorado House Education Committee on January 26, 2015.  The bill can be seen here.