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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Native American names or symbols can no longer be used as Washington public school mascots

UPDATED: Mon., April 26, 2021

Students and a Spokane Public Schools administration member pause in the North Central High School hallway around the statue of a Native American during the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of in-person classes on March 1, 2021. A state law signed Monday, April 26, 2021 will require North Central to change its mascot from the Indians.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Students and a Spokane Public Schools administration member pause in the North Central High School hallway around the statue of a Native American during the Pledge of Allegiance on the first day of in-person classes on March 1, 2021. A state law signed Monday, April 26, 2021 will require North Central to change its mascot from the Indians. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

OLYMPIA – Native American names, symbols or images will no longer be allowed to be used as mascots, logos or team names for most Washington public schools.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that requires school districts to begin phasing out the use of Native American names or symbols by Jan. 1, 2022, unless the district consults with the appropriate tribe on its use.

The bill passed the state Senate 40-9, and the House of Representatives 90-8 for a final time.

According to a fiscal analysis of the bill, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction estimates about 32 schools in the state currently use a Native mascot, but not all districts may need to change.

Districts that are located on tribal land or in a county adjacent to tribal land do have the opportunity to consult with the tribe to determine the appropriate use of its name, symbol or image.

A few districts in Spokane will have to start having these conversations or phasing out their mascots. North Central High School’s mascot, currently the Indians, would have to change. North Central junior Ivy Pete helped work on the bill.

“The picture we paint of these mascots is not of a real human, group of humans or culture,” Pete told the House Education Committee in February. “It is a selection of preconceived notions and ideas that must be set straight.”

Spokane Public Schools board of directors has already been discussing a mascot change for North Central.

The superintendent of Reardan-Edwall School District indicated to lawmakers that the district already was starting conversations with the Spokane Tribe of Indians about how to respectfully keep their mascot, currently the Indians.

Under the new law, districts must begin phasing out mascots by Jan. 1 of next year. The state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is required to provide support grants to districts that are changing their mascots to help pay for new uniforms, equipment, letterhead or signage.


Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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