NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Barbara Munson of Mosinee has fought for years against Indian mascots and logos for sports teams. A bill had languished in the state legislature for years. This session it was approved and signed into law by Governor Doyle. Munson won after a long, hard struggle.
The law says school districts can be fined or be ordered to change their mascots if the State Superintendent of Public Instruction rules they are offensive. Tony Evers, the current state superintendent, has already stated he is opposed to using Indian names and themes. It’s doubtful he would ever uphold an Indian name as non-offensive.
The law says the process starts when the school district gets a specific complaint. It would then be forwarded to the state, followed by hearings, then a ruling, then a ‘change or be fined’ decision for the schools.
But what if there is no complaint?
The Greenwood School District has called itself the Indians for as long as anyone can remember. The current school board president says he’s never had a complaint about the team name. He’s lived in town all his life. He graduated from Greenwood High School in 1959. In all that time, he says there’s been nothing but pride for the local school sports teams. Realizing changing sensitivities, Greenwood High did away with a cartoon-like Indian mascot, and now uses a logo that emphasizes the school’s initials, with an image of an arrow-spear through the letters. Again, no complaints on record.
I’m curious about Barbara Munson. Would she complain? Would she take offense that an hour’s drive away there’s a community that seems to be indifferent to her cause?
The spirit of the law includes a measure of local control. Will a small group of activists travel the state, lodging complaints at how offended they are with the names of far away school teams? Or will they be satisfied that like-minded people have a powerful tool to affect change, while leaving others alone?
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau