PRESS RELEASE: March 16, 2021
Nebraska Advisory Committee to the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights Releases Report:
Civil Rights and the Impact of Native American Names, Symbols, and Imagery
in School Mascots
The Nebraska Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report following a series of public meetings regarding the civil rights impact of the use of Native American names, symbols, and images as school mascots. Considering decades of social science research demonstrating social, emotional, and political harm; and subsequent calls from several professional organizations including the American Psychological Association, The National Congress of American Indians, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to retire such mascots, the Committee sought to examine the present-day impact of their continued use in some Nebraska schools.
Primary concerns identified in the report include the impact of Native-themed mascots on public policy, public attitudes, and behaviors; the role of public education in either supporting or deconstructing harmful stereotypes about Native people; and the obligation of schools, as public institutions, to maintain an inclusive learning environment for all students. The Committee also explored precedence for retiring Native-themed mascots and identified supports that may be necessary to assist schools wishing to transition away from their current mascots. The memorandum concludes with a series of recommendations regarding actions that can be taken to address the related civil rights issues moving forward.
Committee Chair Dr. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado said, “This important work offers a definitive statement and path forward toward resolving a long-overdue issue of concern to Native Americans and people of conscience in Nebraska and across the United States. The harm visited upon our Native populations is well documented, and the findings and recommendations drawn from this report can be viewed as an essential step in healing, in both the historical and present context.”
Full report available at: https://www.usccr.gov/files/2021/03-15-NE-Native-Mascot-Briefing.pdf