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Old 02-23-2005, 01:30 AM   #1
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Oklahoma State Senate kills mascot bill

Oklahoma State Senate kills mascot bill
Measure to ban "Redskins" and "Savages" dies in committee

OLKAHOMA CITY OK
Sam Lewin 2/22/2005

Even though a proposal to bar two Indian mascot names has been defeated, supporters of the legislation say they are happy the issue even went up for debate.

And they promise not to give up the fight.

The bill, sponsored by Oklahoma State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre, would have banned the use of the words “Redskins” and “Savages” from Oklahoma high school mascots. McIntyre, a Tulsa-based Democrat from District 11, said she introduced the law because she realized the monikers were hurtful to some.

Eighteen members of the Senate Education Committee did not agree, and the Oklahoma Racial Mascots Act died on a vote of 18-5.

Members of the Tulsa Indian Coalition Against Racism, a civil rights organization that has long been opposed to the mascots, preferred to look at the bright side.

"We are encouraged because two years ago this wasn't even an issue that people were discussing and today it was heard in the Senate," TICAR President Louis Gray said in a statement the day of the vote. Gray is a former editor of the Native American Times and remains a regular contributor.

He said some good things came from the vote, including the fact that Oklahoma City legislators are now more educated about the topic and that the state’s Native community became more involved in the political process. A rally in support of the bill took place at the State Capitol just days before the committee vote.

Gray also acknowledged those lawmakers that supported the proposal.

"We respect and are thankful that Senators like Bernest Cain, Judy Eason-McIntyre, Angela Monson and others care about the lives of all Oklahomans,” he said. “Judy is a lawmaker of rare courage and compassion. Indian people now know they have loyal friend in the legislature.”

Prior to the vote, McIntyre asked other committee members to take the feelings of American Indians into account. She later said she was not surprised that the bill failed, but was taken aback by the large vote margin.

Senators Don Barrington and Robert M. Kerr, in defense of their opposition, said the mascot names were ingrained in the tradition of many schools and were not meant to be offensive to Indians.

The issue generated debate, with several state newspapers issuing various editorials both pro and con. Some contained inaccuracies.

“In McClain County, there are the Washington Warriors, who have claimed that mascot since the early 1900s,” wrote Susie Williams in the Purcell Register. “If the legislation passes, what will they do? Looks to me like they will have to go to a tremendous amount of expense and change their mascot to perhaps a dog, a cat or some other entity.”

In reality, the Washington Warriors would not have had to change a thing. The legislation only applied to “Redskins” and “Savages.”

Gray says that even with this year’s defeat, the issue is not going away anytime soon.

"One thing is certain. Those who maintain Indian mascots, and especially Redskins and Savages, are appropriate are running out of plausible reasons to keep them. The Senate Education Committee, like the Union School Board, could offer no intelligible reason for voting no against us, and certainly were not interested in debating the issue for public viewing," Gray said.

Union is the Tulsa-based school that uses the “Redskins” mascot. The school, with an overwhelmingly Caucasian faculty and student body, features garish, Indian-themed performances during halftimes of sporting events.

Vote breakdown:

These are the members of the Senate Committee on Education and this is the vote tally for SB 567, the Oklahoma Racial Mascots Act. It failed in committee on Feb. 21 by a vote of 18 to 5.

(D) Sen. Angela Monson - Chair (yes)
(D) Sen. Susan Paddack - Vice Chair (yes)
(R) Sen. Cliff Aldridge
(R) Sen. Patrick Anderson (yes)
(R) Sen. Don Barrington
(R) Sen. Cliff Branan
(D) Sen. Bernest Cain (yes)
(R) Sen. Glenn Coffee
(D) Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield
(D) Sen. Mary Easley
(R) Sen. John Ford
(D) Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
(D) Sen. J. Berry Harrison (yes)
(R) Sen. Clark Jolley
(R) Sen. Ron Justice
(D) Sen. Robert Kerr
(D) Sen. Charlie Laster
(D) Sen. Daisy Lawler
(D) Sen. Richard Lerblance
(R) Sen. Mike Mazzei
(D) Sen. Mike Morgan
(R) Sen. Scott Pruitt
(D) Sen. Jeff Rabon
(R) Sen. Nancy Riley
(D) Sen. Stratton Taylor
(R) Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson
(R) Sen. James A. Williamson

ABSENT FOR VOTE:
(D) Sen. Stratton Taylor
(D) Sen. Mike Morgan
(R) Sen. Cliff Branan
(D) Sen. Mary Easley

Demos Voting Nay:
Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm
Sen. Robert Kerr
Sen. Charlie Laster
Sen. Daisy Lawler
Sen. Richard Lerblance
Sen. Jeff Rabon
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Old 02-23-2005, 09:32 AM   #2
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Since names all of the yeas and nays are published, the native Americans of Oklahoma have to keep this information on hand and made available to everyone just before the next vote. I imagine there's a lot of Indian voters there. Enough to make a difference.
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