Native American imagery could be banned in Minnesota schools
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KVRR) — Minnesota lawmakers are considering a bill that would prevent schools from using Native American imagery as logos.
Senator Mary Kunesh is behind Senate File 584 which would require schools to file requests to grant permission from the Tribal Nations Education Committee and Indian Affairs Council to continue using a nickname and logo.
Schools can also get permission from all eleven federally recognized tribes across the state.
Former NHL player and Olympic silver medalist Henry Boucha, a Warroad native, is backing his hometown Warriors.
He explained the school’s history comes from his great-great grandfather, a tribal leader who built the school in 1915 and requested the mascot be a Warrior to honor Native ancestors.
“We educate our students. Not only Indian students but white students as well as anybody else that comes through our program. When they graduate, they know about diversity, they know to respect and honor the Warroad name,” Boucha says.
Boucha is historically against all references to indigenous culture in sports but gives a pass to schools or sports teams that have historical significance and make efforts to respect Native tribes.
While he was in St. Paul, he noticed a logo featuring a headdress and wanted to know the school’s history behind the logo.
“I went to their alumni bank and they were all mad, ‘Well they’re going to paint over that and do an injustice,’ and I said, ‘Can anybody at this table tell me the history of the Indian people there and that headdress?’ Not one alumni spoke up or said anything about it,” says Boucha.
Boucha says that reaction shocked him, further adding if there is no history behind the image, it shouldn’t be featured on any logos.
“If you want that history and that piece of history to evolve throughout your school and the community, you have to have that research up. You have to have that proof of the battle or something that really made a difference in the community. Something that you should be proud of and honor in a respectful way,” said Boucha.
Some who criticize the bill believe if it passes, students will not be as curious when it comes to learning about native heritage.