Advisory Committee Recommends Nebraska High Schools Drop Native American Mascots

March 17, 2021, 4:38 p.m. ·


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A Nebraska civil rights advisory committee is recommending all Nebraska high schools phase out the use of Native American mascots. The committee says it's time to move on from what it calls harmful and racist stereotypes that are no longer acceptable.

The Nebraska Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has released a report that says Native American-themed mascots are “psychologically, socially and emotionally harmful” to Native American students and do not honor the communities they represent. The report also says the mascots perpetuate underlying stereotypes and beliefs about Native Americans.

Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado. (Photo by Jack Williams, NET News)

“There still is a historical, but it also is a present harm that is being done to this community,” Committee Chair Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado said. “Not only in terms of psychological harm but I think the distance between that and physical harm is not very far ever.”

There are at least 22 Nebraska high schools that use Native American mascots. The committee’s recommendations are non-binding and the governing body of high school sports in Nebraska can’t force schools to change their mascots either. Some schools argue it would be expensive to change their mascots.

“I’m not asking people to do this overnight,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “I understand that they have to remove logos and there are t-shirts and letterman's jackets and all of that. I understand all of that. I’m not insensitive to it, but we wanted to make a very definitive statement that we need to move on from this.”

The issue is also in the national spotlight. This past season, the NFL’s Washington Football Team dropped its Native American mascot and Cleveland’s Major League baseball team says it will drop the name it’s used for more than 100 years after this season.