California becomes first state in the nation to bar the use of “Redskins” as a nickname or mascot for any public school. The new law, signed on Sunday by Governor Jerry Brown, impacts four of the state’s high schools.
The four schools that will have to change are Calaveras of San Andreas (Calaveras County, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section); Chowchilla (Madera County, CIF Central Section); Gustine (Stantislaus County, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section); and Tulare (Tulare County, CIF Central Section).
“On behalf of the Tulare Joint Union High School District we are disappointed to hear that Governor Brown signed AB 30. We will adhere to the law as it is written,” Tulare Joint Union High School District superintendent Sarah Koligian said in a press release that ran on a lead story in Monday’s Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Advance-Register.
“At this point, we have not selected another mascot,” Koligian added in the release. “We will review the timelines as specified in AB 30 and determine a plan of action. Together with our Board of Trustees, school community and our Tulare community we will seek their input to determine our new mascot.”
Tulare is the largest and oldest school in which the new ban impacts. The first sentence on the school’s web site says it all: “As Redskins, we are a part of a long and proud tradition dating back to 1890.”
As stipulated in the measure, the ban doesn’t begin until Jan. 1, 2017, which gives the schools approximately 15 months to replace signs, uniforms and more. It would be hard to envision any schools, however, doing this in the middle of a school year (2016-17) so effectively the new uniforms, etc. probably would be in place by the start of the next football season (which really isn’t that far away).
It also will be interesting to see how passage and signage of the bill in California may lead to other states doing the same or whether it could add pressure to the Washington Redskins of the NFL to change its name.
Dropping or altering Indian-style nicknames and mascots has been a trend in California for more than 40 years.
Some examples of schools from around the state that have dropped Indian-style nicknames (usually due to a local school board edict) include Lowell of San Francisco (from Indians to Cardinals), Birmingham of Van Nuys (from Braves to Patriots), Gardena (from Mohicans to Panthers), Encina Prep of Sacramento (from Apaches to Bulldogs), Alemany of Mission Hills (from Indians to Warriors), Tamalpais of Mill Valley (from Indians to Red-Tailed Hawks), Vallejo (from Apaches to RedHawks), Colusa (from Redskins to Red Hawks) and Mountain Empire (from Redskins to Red Hawks). John Swett High of Crockett also dropped the Indians nickname last February, but students there reportedly have not yet chosen a new mascot.
We just hope the four schools involved do some homework, come up with some original nicknames (some that relate to their community’s identity) and avoid the usual common nicknames. We’d ban Eagles if we could just because there’s too many of them already.