California Bans Schools From Using ‘Redskins’ Name For Sports Teams, Becomes First In The Country To Ban Name

California has banned all public schools from using the name “Redskins” as their sports team’s name or mascot, the L.A. Times is reporting.

On Sunday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Racial Mascots Act, which prevents any public school in the Golden State from adopting, or keeping, the name Redskins. As USA Today reports, the law affects four California schools that use the “Redskins” name and logo: Calaveras High School, about 70 miles southeast of Sacramento, Chowchilla Union High School, about 40 miles northwest of Fresno, Gustine High School, about 100 miles southeast of San Francisco, and Tulare Union High School, about 175 miles north of Los Angeles.

The name "Redskins" and its logo features prominently in Tulare Union High School's culture. Image Credit: Tulare High School website

The law does not take effect until January 1, 2017, giving those four schools time to phase out their current uniforms, signage, and other memorabilia bearing the Redskins name.

Oneida Indian Nation spokesperson Ray Halbritter, who, through his organization “Change the Mascot” worked closely with California lawmakers in urging the law’s passing — and who has also been campaigning to get the Washington Redskins NFL team to change their name — praised the new law, according to CBS Sports.

“[California’s] historic step to build a better future stands in stark contrast to the dogged inaction of Washington’s NFL team, which in the face of all the evidence that this term degrades and offends Native Americans, continues to defend and promote the slur for its own financial gain. The most populous state in the country has now taken a stand against the use of this insidious slur in its schools, and Change the Mascot expects more states to follow.”

The name “Redskins” — in the context of Washington’s National Football League team, at least — has been a controversy off-and-on for decades, with a renewed focus beginning in 2013, according to WUSA (Washington). Some Native American groups have insisted that the name “Redskins” is derogatory, and that the mascot — with its war paint and feathers — mocks the culture of Native Americans and stereotypes the groups.

California Redskins
Some Native Americans have claimed that the name "Redskins" and its logo are offensive. Image Credit: Shutterstock/miker

The Washington Redskins organization maintains that the name “Redskins” is one of honor, saying that the name derives from — and honors — original coach William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz, who was Native American. Further, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder continues to insist that he will “never” change his team’s name, according to this Inquisitr report.

Meanwhile, back in Tulare, California, individuals associated with Tulare Union High School — teachers, students, parents — tell KQED (San Francisco) that the new law isn’t going over very well. Tulare cheerleader Myka Bravo insists that the name “Redskins” is well-liked at her school.

“Why change it now when just a few people are, like, feeling hurt by it when a lot of us respect it and want to stand for it and actually like the name.”

School Board member Craig Hamilton insists that the term “Redskins” is a sign of respect, at least in Tulare.

“There’s enough evidence to say it’s a respectful term, at least in our community.”

Hamilton is also not at all pleased about the amount of money his school is going to have to spend to come into compliance with the new law, estimating that it’s going to cost $1 million just to replace the athletes’, band members’, and cheerleaders’ uniforms, to say nothing of all the work that will need to be done inside the school.

“We have paintings on buildings, we have stained glass, there’s just a lot of things that add up.”

Do you think California made the right move to ban public schools from using the name “Redskins”? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Image courtesy of: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw]