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Retiring “Indian” School Mascots: Informing, Tracking, and Fueling a Growing National Movement

Held at NCAI’s 77th Annual Convention in November 2020, this session provided an overview of the growing movement among K-12 schools across the country to retire offensive and harmful Native "themed" mascots, its connection to recent developments among professional sports teams, and how NCAI has been working to inform and guide this movement. Session panelists shared about how these efforts have taken shape at the local, state, and national levels; the particular challenges of educating school communities about the impacts school mascots have on both Native and non-Native people; and effective strategies for constructive dialogue focused on why these mascots should be retired – and how. NCAI also shared its recently unveiled national school mascot tracking database, and how it has been using the database to engage and inform local school communities about Indian Country’s longstanding opposition to harmful Native “themed” mascots, and the need to retire those mascots. Panelists included: Maulian Dana, Ambassador, Penobscot Nation; Suzan Shown Harjo, President, Morning Star Institute; Dr. Aaron Payment, 1st Vice President, National Congress of American Indians; Dr. Leslie Rasmussen, Member, Forest Hills School District Board of Education; and Randy’L Teton, Public Affairs Manager, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. To learn more about NCAI’s school mascot tracking database, please click: https://www.ncai.org/NCAI_School_Mascot_Tracking_Database_-_Overview_and_Numbers.pdf

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