• Redskins nickname being phased out in California

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    And then there was one.

    Tulare Union High School has become the third of four California High Schools to change its nickname from Redskins to something else.

    The four schools, among them Calaveras High School in San Andreas, were compelled to change their nickname after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Racial Mascots Act last year. Schools have until January 1 to comply.

    Many consider Redskins to be racially offensive.

    Tulare will be called Tribe, school officials announced late last month. Gustine was the first to change to Reds (it will remove Native American imagery from its logo), and Calaveras decided to drop the nickname altogether.

    Removing the nicknames was not without controversy.

    Many in the American Indian community view the word as a racial slur, even though many schools that used the nickname said they did it with honor and respect for the native peoples it was supposed to represent.

    At Calaveras, for example, school officials removed an image of a chieftan from the gym floor at the urging of Miwok tribal members, who said it was offensive for people to walk on the image. It was placed, instead, high on the gym walls, a place of honor.

    But the very term often is recognized as a racial slur that promotes discrimination. The NFL team in Washington has been pressured to drop the nickname but so far has refused.

    In California, then-high school student Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown of Jackson brought the issue to the forefront, and Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, authored the bill that eventually led to the outlawing of the nickname.

    After passage of the bill, a Washington Post poll conducted in May found nine out of 10 Native Americans said they were not offended by the Washington Redskins name.

    And in California, the nickname was long ingrained in the schools that used it. Calaveras had been using Redskins since the 1940s, and in Chowchilla and Tulare since at least the 1930s.

    Chowchilla officials plan to remove Native American imagery so the term “Reds” is not considered a shortened form of Redskins. Tulare, however, plans to keep its Native American imagery, such as the eagle feather headdress on a mural on the side of the school.

    Chowchilla plans to change its nickname to meet the Jan. 1 deadline, but is holding out until after October. That way, the school will celebrate its centennial with the nickname.

    TNS

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