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Maine was the first state with a ban on the use of Native American mascots in all public schools and universities on Thursday, a precedent in the nationwide debate about sports teams, the use of images, which some consider to be culturally offensive.
Surrounded by the representatives of the local tribal communities, democratic Gov. Janet Mills under legislation signed in the law, the Bangor Daily News reported.
“While Indian mascot were often originally chosen to honor a school that has a unique connection to the Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly from Maine tribes, that they are a source of pain and anguish,” Mills said at the bill signing.
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Lawmakers voted along party lines in support of the proposal last month after hours of debate, according to the paper. Republican opponents of the measure argue that local boards should decide such problems.
“And today [by] now, it is to promote our collective responsibility for the next generations to be equal to each other, as individuals, and, above all, as neighbors,” said Rena Newell, a representative for the Passamaquoddy tribe from Pleasant, according to the Daily News.
Skowhegan Area High School is the last school in the state, using a Native American mascot. The local school Board voted to ditch it earlier this year.
Mills’ office said in California, Oregon, and Wisconsin have similar restrictions, while New York, South Dakota and Michigan have for an end to the use of the mascot.
Thursday the signing of two months after Mills comes signed, to replace another piece of legislation Columbus day to Indigenous peoples day.
In recent years, critics have to unite the objections with several sports over the use of images and language considered offensive to some minorities.
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The Washington Redskins, for example, endured criticism for years over the use of the “Redskins” name. Native Americans and others call it a racial slur. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owner Dan Snyder to efforts to change the name, but.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit last year vacated earlier ruling that canceled the Federal trademark registrations.
In the year 2018, the Cleveland Indians retired its controversial mascot, Chief Wahoo, and removed the emblem from jerseys and caps amid pressure from critics. Other teams have come under fire include the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.