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Hearing on changing indian mascot law

MADISON (WSAU-Wheeler News)   An emotional public hearing was held yesterday on a Republican bill to make it harder to force Wisconsin public schools to drop their Indian team names. An Assembly committee heard testimony on a bill that would basically un-do a 2009 law from Democrats. That law allows one-or-more people to complain about a school's Indian team name -- and then the school board must prove that it doesn't discriminate, or else they can be fined $1,000 a day until they drop it.

Mukwonago Superintendent Shawn McNulty, whose district ignored a state order to change its Indians' name, called it a guilty-before-proven-innocent policy that hasn't been used quote, "since the Salem witch trials."

Jennifer Kammerud of the state Department of Public Instruction said the bill would create "an acceptable level of discrimination." Under the bill, complaints would not be considered unless petitions are filed with signatures equaling 10-percent of a school's student population. She said other anti-discrimination laws don't require that many people to complain. The bill would also force Indians to prove why school nicknames discriminate against them -- instead of schools having to prove that they don't.

Oneida tribal council member Brandon Stevens said all 11 state tribes oppose the mascots. He disputes the idea that some monikers honor Indians. As Stevens put it -- "In no case will a mascot, logo, or team name ever honor the Oneida."

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