The Washington State Senate Tuesday night voted to pass a bill that would ban the use of Native American mascots in sports, however, some schools will be exempted.

According to various news sources, the bill passed by a margin of 40-9 in the largely Democratically controlled upper chamber.

The State House already approved the legislation in February, so it will head back to them for final approval. The bill will go into effect January 1st. 2022, but will allow existing schools time to 'phase out' their old mascots. It will now pretty much head to Gov. Inslee's desk for signature.

This January 1st. date will apply to upcoming schools that have not chosen a mascot yet. New schools to be built will likely not choose such a name as they will become 'illegal.'


However, there will be some exceptions. They include:

  • Schools that are on Native or Tribal lands
  • Schools adjacent to Native or tribal lands
  • Schools adjacent to such lands, or schools where local Native or Tribal officials were consulted prior to the naming of the Mascot.

The bill itself, the House version, contains this phrase:

"Establishes exceptions to the prohibition if certain requirements met, including consultation with and authorization by, the applicable tribe or tribes."

This last exemption is likely to work in favor of at least one area school Kamiakin HS in Kennewick. Prior to the school opening in the fall of 1970, the Kennewick School District consulted with the Yakama Indian Tribe about naming the mascot after the noted Chief Kamiakin. Chief Kamiakin was born in 1800 and died in 1877, and the school's portrayal of him has been as a brave and noteable leader.

Schools who do not meet any of these exception criteria will have until the end of the 2021-22 school year to phase out the old mascot. Starting in 2022 such schools will not be able to purchase gear or equipment bearing the likeness of the old mascot.


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