Ohio lawmakers urge schools to retire Native American mascots

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COLUMBUS (WJW) – Two Ohio lawmakers are urging schools across the state to retire Native American mascots.

The resolution introduced Wednesday by Representative Adam Miller (D-Columbus) and Representative Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) would engage Native American groups as part of the process.

“School spirit is about the teachers, students, community and even the building. Many schools with Native American mascots are stepping up, moving in the right direction,” said Miller. “We need to all work together and make these mascots a thing of the past.”

“We’re sending a message that hurtful stereotypes have no place in Ohio,” said Miranda. “This resolution is just one of many measures needed to address the injustices Native Americans have faced in this state.”

According to a recent study from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, 79 schools in Ohio have Native American nicknames or mascots.

Some of these include Indians, Redskins, Redmen, Apaches, Arrows, Braves, Chieftains, Chipps, Mohawks, Raiders, Seminoles, Senecas and Warriors.

In the summer of 2020, the Parma City School District began having public forums to get input on whether to change the district’s mascot, the Redmen. Superintendent Dr. Charles Smialek says the district had four virtual public meetings and conducted an online survey.

Smialek says about 100 people participated in the public meetings.

“The public meetings were clearly very pro-change, they wanted to see a change… They felt that the Redmen mascot/logo had really far out-lived its appropriateness and it was a passionate level of support for change,” Smialek said.

The superintendent says about 2,000 people responded to the online survey and the results were the opposite.

“The survey was very passionate in keeping the logo… We’ve heard from approximately 2,100 people in one shape, form or another and so we felt it was important to talk to our kids as well, and that’s what we plan to do this fall,” said Smialek.

The superintendent says he has already asked the Parma High School principal and athletic director to reach out to some student leaders and athletes to discuss the possible change. 

He hopes a decision can be made in time for the 2022-2023 school year.

The resolution calls on schools and sports teams to work with the State Board of Education, school boards, government entities and other groups to procure the resources and technical assistance needed to make these changes.

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