The DPI hears testimony on rules relating to enforcement of the new law cracking down on offensive race-based monikers.
Barbara Munson is with the Wisconsin Indian Education Association. She questions the use of the terms “Chief” and “Chieftains,” saying the State Department of Public Instruction should consider those two terms as unambiguously race-based nicknames, along with Indians, Braves, Redmen and tribal names. “Because they are, throughout the nation, used specifically only to designate American Indian people.”
Munson also wants the department to provide education to communities about the use of Indian nicknames, mascots and logos in Wisconsin high schools, she says, because some folks have been living so long with the stereotype that they don’t even see it as such.
Ezra Zeitler, also with the Indian Education Association, testifies that while there are plenty of ambiguous nicknames that might not make reference toward indigenous people, like Warriors, Blackhawks, Raiders, he argues that Chiefs and Chieftains are too specific.
Menomonee Falls High School Athletic Director David Petroff worries about the cost of changing from “Indians,” saying they are already experiencing reductions in state aid, as well as past and future budget deficits resulting in cuts to the athletic department. “If we were to have to change mascots, how would the cost of replacing uniforms at all three levels, signage and equipment play out?”
The law requires that the DPI investigate complaints and gives the state Superintendent the authority to order districts to drop race-based logos and nicknames within a year, or face fines of up to $1,000 a day. The DPI will accept comments on the proposed rules until August 4th.