At least eight school boards across Wisconsin have approved a resolution to bring to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) calling for the end of Native American mascots at high schools in Wisconsin.
Wausau School Board president Tricia Zunker, who is also a justice on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court, said there are still 31 school districts in Wisconsin with some form of Native American mascot or logo. The resolution says having a Native American mascot “undermines the ability of the Native American Tribal Nations to portray respectful and accurate images of their history, culture, government, sovereignty, customs and traditions.”
The Wausau School Board approved the resolution earlier this summer, and school boards in Madison, Sun Prairie and Milwaukee quickly followed suit. This week, the school boards of Shawano, Eau Claire, Appleton and La Crosse all signed on to the resolution.
The resolution would not be binding, but will come up for a vote of the entire WASB membership at its meeting in January. Any school board can bring a resolution to WASB on its own, but having many school boards behind it gives it more weight, Zunker said.
“I just think it sends a stronger message,” she said. “What WASB does is they are a lobbying body, so they can go to the Assembly, they can go to the Senate and they can say this is what the elected officials throughout the state. our public school officials, support. And so we, as a lobbying body, are bringing this to you, urging you to support this measure as well. So it doesn’t have any binding effects simply by being a resolution. However … we can see that conversation that’s happening throughout the state already on it. So, perhaps those districts with those mascots might make change without any legal requirements.”
In the Madison area, Verona changed from the Indians to the Wildcats in the 1990s, and Poynette dropped its Indians mascot in 2009. Wisconsin Dells and Waunakee both still use Native American mascots – the Chiefs and the Warriors, respectively.