Maine has just become the first state to ban the use of Native American mascots in all public schools, including colleges and universities.
Following a unanimous vote in the state legislature, governor Janet Mills signed the bill into law last week, according to Yahoo News.
“While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish,” Mills said in a statement.
While Maine is the first state to enact such a law, other states are beginning to implement similar bans.
Maine has been at the forefront in issue related to fair and equitable treatment of Native Americans. In addition to the mascot ban, the state has also officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“Our tribal communities laid the foundation of our state,” Rep. Benjamin Collings, who sponsored the Maine legislation, said. “They are people, not mascots.”
“A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of pride,” Mills said in a statement this week. “Our people, communities, and understanding and respect for one another are Maine’s source of pride and it is time our symbols reflect that.”