Proposal on banning Native American mascots in Wisconsin schools gains traction in Milwaukee area

NOW: Proposal on banning Native American mascots in Wisconsin schools gains traction in Milwaukee area

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. (CBS 58)-- A proposal calling the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to endorse legislation eliminating Native American mascots from schools is gaining popularity in the Milwaukee area.

The Milwaukee School District says they’ve started the discussion and plan to make a decision next week, but there are still some districts in the area that are not on board.

The proposal says there are still 31 out of 421 Wisconsin public school districts that use Native American mascots, symbols, images or logos including the Menomonee Falls High School, home of the Indians.

Oneida Tribal Member Mark Denning helped to facilitate the change of Marquette University’s Warrior mascot, by representing Native Americans at the school in the early 80’s. He says it’s disheartening to see Native American mascots still being used today.

“That’s not right,” says Denning. “It’s just a two dimensional character for a people that have many levels of reality.”

Superintendent of the Menomonee Falls School District says he understands how using Native American imagery could be offensive, but it was never intended to cause harm.

”I’m not going to be in the business of defending our mascot to those who are offended. I believe their offense is real,” said Superintendent Corey Golla.

Golla says his district needs to have a meaningful conversation on this issue, but prefers the resolution doesn’t pass and decisions stay local.

The Menomonee Falls High School Indian mascot has been around since the 80’s, when the village’s two high schools merged.

”We would just really prefer to have that conversation in our community and have our hand forced by some of those external forces,” adds Golla.

Golla says the mascot issue has become a distraction from the district's positive achievement, and hopes to lead the discussion for the district.

”The purpose of a mascot is to unify a school around an image,” said Golla. “Does this unify us? Or does this divide us?”

Denning says there is no reason why schools in support of this proposal should wait.

”They need to take this issue on, and they can’t wait until tomorrow or put it off to a committee meeting,” said Denning. “The facts are in, make the decision and be accounted because other school boards are afraid to do it.”

Golla says he expects the Wisconsin Association of School Boards to vote on the proposal in January, which will determine whether or not it will move forward with promoting legislation on banning Native American mascots.

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