Nevada governor signs law banning ‘racially discriminatory’ mascots, ‘sundown sirens’

Controversy surrounding the problematic use of Native cultural imagery in American society is nothing new. Gov. Steve Sisolak makes state law clear.

Steve Sisolak, the Democratic governor of Nevada, signed a law Friday that will require its schools to change “any name, logo, mascot, song or identifier” that has any racially discriminatory undertones, any association with the confederacy or any association with a federally-recognized Indian tribe.

NPR reported that in addition to making Nevada schools change their imagery and messaging where necessary, the new legislation also ensures that counties in the state can no longer use “sundown sirens.” 

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a law Friday requiring schools to change names, logos, mascots, songs or identifiers with racially discriminatory undertones. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Sundown sirens” were used as a warning for certain people of color to leave town borders at a particular time. If they failed to leave, they’d risk assault or even death.

Assembly Bill 88 allows for schools or companies to get tribal approval if they want to use the tribe’s likeness for branding purposes.

Controversy surrounding the problematic use of Native cultural imagery in American society is nothing new. Last summer, the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins announced that it would be changing its name after years-long pressure.

As theGrio previously reported, the Washington D.C. NFL team established a group that will determine its new name and logo design. Merchandise featuring the old name and logo has since been discontinued.

The new legislation was signed at the Stewart Indian School, which has a distinctly racist history of its own. According to NPR, the campus was run by the U.S. government for almost a century and took Native American children out of their homes and forced them to assimilate to American culture.

That school is similar to the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, where the bodies of 215 schoolchildren were found buried last month in unmarked graves.

As theGrio previously reported, from the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. They were forced to convert to Christianity, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

The Canadian government apologized in Parliament in 2008 and admitted that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was rampant. Many students recall being beaten for speaking their native languages; they also lost touch with their parents and customs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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