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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Vote To Ease Native Mascot Ban Despite Veto Threat

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Oregon lawmakers have ignored a threatened veto and approved a measure to relax a ban on Native American-themed school mascots. The Senate Monday gave final approval to the bill, which would allow school districts to keep their mascots if the nearest American Indian tribe agrees.

That would reverse a decision by the Oregon Board of Education to ban such mascots by 2017. Governor John Kitzhaber told legislative leaders he doesn't support the proposed change.

Republican Senator Jeff Kruse said most Oregon tribes are on good terms with the school districts that use names like Warriors, Indians and Braves. "What we don't want to do is to get wrapped up in the fact that in other parts of the country the relationship isn't as good. Let's stay focused on Oregon."

Supporters of a ban, including some tribal groups, say the mascots are demeaning to Native American culture. The measure passed both chambers with enough votes to override a veto.

There are 15 schools in Oregon that use American Indian mascots.

On the Web:

SB 215: Native American-themed school mascots - Oregon Legislature 
Governor John Kitzhaber's veto threat - Office of the Governor