State lawmakers hear six hours of public testimony about whether Wisconsin school districts could continue to use Indian nicknames, logos and mascots. Milwaukee Democrat State Senator Spencer Coggs is cosponsor of the legislation.

“The harm many times is unintentional. Some even may think they are doing honor to a group of citizens in Wisconsin who have native American origins. However, there is no honor in a nickname based on race when that race of people object to it.”

The bill (SB-25) would require that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction investigate complaints about Indian names, logos or mascots. If the state superintendent agrees with the complaint, the district must end usage within a year, or face fines of up to $1,000 a day.

Bruce Braidigan is a member of the Kewaskum School Board, whose nickname is the Indians. He opposes the bill.

“Before you vote on this bill, are you sure that you have thought about all the complications and burdens that this Senate Bill 25 will be placing on the school districts?”

Several high school student from the Prescott district, whose nickname is the Cardinals, testify at the capitol hearing. One student describes how their rivals — the Osceola Chieftains — would act toward them.

“There are some members of the Osceola community that were, you know, blatantly just looking at us going (holler) as loud as they could, as obnoxious as they could.”

NOTE: As of October 7, 2009, 29 Wisconsin schools have eliminated all American Indian references from a previously-used Indian nickname, logo or mascot while 36 Wisconsin schools continue to use an Indian nickname.

Jackie Johnson 1:39

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State lawmakers hear public testimony about whether Wisconsin school districts could continue to use Indian nicknames, logos and mascots. A Kewaskum school student questions the bill, telling the legislative committee that it seems unfair to have only a small group of schools change their names and logos.

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The bill (SB-25) wouldn’t ban the names, but would require that the Department of Public Instruction investigate complaints about Indian names, logos or mascots.

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