DENVER — On Friday, the Colorado state Senate passed a bill that would prohibit the use of American Indians as mascots at Colorado Public Schools.
Specifically, the bill prohibits any K-12 school or institution of higher education in Colorado from using an American Indian mascot after June 1, 2022. A failure to comply would result in a one-time $25,000 fine for the school district or charter school institute and subsequent monthly fines for institutions of higher education.
These fines would then be collected in the State Education Fund.
According to the bill, in 2015, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order to establish the commission to study American Indian representations in public schools. The commission, comprised of American Indian leaders from across the state, visited the schools that wanted to be a part of this conversation. There were only four: Strasburg, Loveland, Eaton, and Lamar. After visiting each of these communities, the commission found using derogatory American Indian mascots creates an unwelcome and hostile learning environment for American Indian students.
The commission's ultimate recommendation was to completely eliminate American Indian imagery and nomenclature in schools in Colorado.
Lawmakers like Senator Jessie Danielson, who sponsored the bill, says this bill is long overdue.
"The use of these derogatory mascots are harmful to native youths and non-native youths. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes that are harmful to our entire community," Senator Jessie Danielson, (D) Colorado.
Following Cheyenne Mountain High School’s decision to change their mascot earlier this year, there are still 24 K-12 schools across the state that use American Indians as mascots.
The bill passed along party lines by 20-12.
The legislation now moves to the House for further consideration
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