New information on the push to get rid of Indian mascots at Oklahoma high schools

Thursday, February 3rd 2005, 11:08 am
By: News On 6

A Tulsa lawmaker wants to end the use of Native American images for team names and mascots. The bill was introduced as a ban on all team names that have Native American ties. But now only certain names are being singled out.

News on 6 reporter Ashli Sims has more on who could be affected.

Indians, Braves, Warriors and Redskins, originally, state Senate Bill 567 would ban them all. Now, the bill might be changed to target only two names, Savages and Redskins.

Elizabeth Hullinger, Union Senior: "For us it’s an honor to be a redskin it’s not meant to be offensive at all.”

Nick Abbott, Union Senior: "to me personally it makes me proud to be a Redskin.”

Jessalynn Kirkendall, Union Senior: "We as students don’t understand why it’s such a big issue because it’s such a huge honor for us to be Redskins.”

Daniel Stockton, Union Junior: "to me it’s our school it’s our soul I don’t know anything else we could be we are the Union Redskins.”

The Union Redskin is once again in the middle of controversy. Union students say it’s a symbol of pride. Members of the Native American community say the term Redskin is nothing to be proud of. Clark Inkanish with the Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism: "The redskin is a very derogatory term if you look it up in the dictionary it’s on the same level as the n-word."

The Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism wants the names Redskins and Savages banned. Louis Gray with the coalition: "we all know there's name calling and then there's slurs and these two we consider slurs the worst offenders."

This is not the first time Union's faced criticism over its mascot and game time rituals. The Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism has protested the name at school board meetings for almost two years.

Union's board researched the name, talked to students and parents and unanimously voted to remain Redskins. Scott McDaniel, Union School Board: "What it means to say you're a Union Redskin is to say you're proud of your community you’re proud of your school and the history of success that Union has had."

Louis Gray: "they say they're honoring us but if we say we're not being honored then who are they honoring?" Now the question will be asked of state lawmakers. And the outcome could change more than just a name.

If this bill becomes a law, Oklahoma could set a national precedent. California tried to pass a similar law last year, but, it was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Around 24 Oklahoma schools use the names Redskins or Savages.