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Calif. bans Indian slur usage in sports

Christopher Weber
Associated Press

Los Angeles – — Four California high schools will be forced to change mascots after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation barring public schools from using an Indian slur name for sports teams.

It was one of three sports-related bills approved by Brown in the last week. The mascot legislation signed Sunday will prevent public schools from using a term that American Indians regard as offensive and goes into effect in 2017.

Only four public schools still use the name, including Tulare Union High south of Fresno. Dr. Sarah Koligian, superintendent of Tulare Joint Union High School District, said officials were “disappointed” by Brown’s decision but will change their team name.

“We will adhere to the law as it is written,” Koligian said in a statement Monday.

The Chowchilla Union High School District in the Central Valley will begin seeking public comment on a new mascot — but not happily, Superintendent Ronald V. Seals said.

The district’s lone high school, which has about 1,000 students, has used a mascot and Indian chief logo since 1928 and there never have been complaints, he said.

“I have Choctaw Indian blood in my veins. I’m not offended by it,” Seals said.

“You don’t pick a mascot that you don’t respect, dignify, love, honor, all those things,” he said. “It’s just taking away something that’s so near and dear to their hearts…and by people who don’t even live here.”

American Indian groups have protested the name’s continued use amid their court fight with the NFL’s Washington football team. A federal panel ruled last year that the team’s trademark should be canceled, but the team is challenging that decision in court.