San Andreas, CA – Calaveras High School may soon have to brave another attempt – this time from a California state assemblyman – on its use of “Redskins” as the school’s team name.
The proposed California Racial Mascots Act, introduced Monday by Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), would prohibit state public schools from using the term Redskins as a school or athletic team name, mascot or nickname as of January 1, 2017. It additionally mandates that the prohibition cannot be waived by the State Board of Education. A specified exception to the bill excludes schools within or with enrollment boundaries in “Indian country” where tribal regulatory jurisdiction has authorized use of the name through an enactment or resolution.
According to Calaveras Unified School District Superintendent Mark Campbell, the legislation sounds like many of the other initiatives that have come up in the past. He says, “Where we stand as a school district, we’re respecting what our community wants…we’ve been very respectful of both sides…other data…advocacy that the term Redskins is racially derogatory…and it’s not…we’re not taking a position that there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.”
Campbell adds, “Our community, every time this comes up…specificially our Native American Community, as evidenced by tribal leaders…have indicated that they see the use of the term Redskins to be very respectful, very dignified, and would be highly offended if we were to change the mascot.”
Local tribal elders, according to Campbell, have communicated a supportive perspective, even as recently as late as last year, when the issue erupted on a national level around the Washington Redskins National Football Team’s continued use of the name under oppositional pressure.
So, for now, Campbell maintains, “Our perspective is, we are listening to our community until legislatively we’re forced to [change the name]…and if so…we’ll comply, and involve the community in the [change] process.”
Along with Calaveras High School, other California public high schools that list Redskins as the school mascot include Chowchilla, Gustine and Tulare; none are located within Alejo’s 30th district, which covers the Pajaro and Salinas Valleys.