Once again Colorado is a testing ground for larger national issues. Today, a bill sponsored by
Chief Foot in Mouth State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Rape Whistle), who claims Apache heritage, will be heard in committee. The topic – stop us if you’ve heard this before – is outlawing the use of Native American tribal names for school athletic mascots.
Surely, the Colorado State legislature has more important issues to tackle – a few that come to mind – education funding, construction defects, oil and gas development, and water usage.
But, beyond the bill hearing’s obvious waste of time and resources, here’s the kicker – a poll showed the most Native Americans do not view Native American mascots as offensive. From CBS:
“There are Native American schools that call their teams Redskins…. In the only recent poll to ask native people about the subject, 90 percent of respondents did not consider the term offensive, although many question the cultural credentials of the respondents.”
Even some Native Americans, like Tommy Yazzie, superintendent of the Red Mesa school district on the Navajo Nation reservation, are questioning the importance of debates similar to this one. From CBS:
“We just don’t think that (name) is an issue,” Yazzie said. “There are more important things like busing our kids to school, the water settlement, the land quality, the air that surrounds us. Those are issues we can take sides on.”
Beyond the controversial topic, the bill also is a mess, threatening to withhold funds from schools that don’t comply. Can the House Education Committee just focus on…education?