March 2020 Announcement
Some great news! Two of our key bills were voted favorably out of committee in February. They are Prohibiting Native Mascots in MA (S.247 /H.443) and Changing the MA Flag and Seal (S.1877/H.2776).
However, we are still waiting for the bills to get to Ways and Means or another committee so that we can provide you with action alerts about what to do and whom to lobby next. We will post an action alert here as soon as there has been some movement.
S.1811/H.2948 An Act to protect Native American Heritage also moved successfully out of committee.
Unfortunately, the Indigenous Peoples Day bill H.3665 did not move out of the committee where it was heard, despite hundreds of your letters in support, hours of testimony, and lobbying of committee members. We thank you for all that you have done, and promise that we will get a new Indigenous Peoples Day bill introduced in January of 2021.
H.444 Improving Indigenous Educational Outcomes also failed to pass out of committee.
Support MA Bill S.247/H.443 – An Act Prohibiting the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth
Contact Members of the Joint Committee on Education
The Joint Committee on Education will decide whether Bill S.247/H.443 continues through the legislative process. The hearing for the bill was held on June 25, 2019, and the Committee will continue to accept public input in writing.
Please contact the members of the Committee and ask them to support Bill S.247/H.443. If possible, include a personal anecdote about how you or someone you know has been harmed by Native American mascots. Please cc your own state representative and state senator. You can find your legislator using this search.
Joint Committee on Education Contact Info: https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Detail/J14/191
Sample Email/Letter Template to Joint Committee on Education Chairs and Members
Dear Members of the Joint Committee on Education:
I am a resident of (town). I am writing in support of Bill S.247/H.443 “An Act Prohibiting the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth.” I am (a parent, teacher, therapist, of indigenous descent, social worker, etc.) and this issue concerns me because (specific reason/s). I ask that this bill be reported out of committee with a favorable vote.
Decades of social science research have shown that Native American mascots have serious social and emotional consequences for Native American youth, including lower self-esteem, less future aspiration, and negative emotions, and thus generate a hostile school climate for these youth. For non-Native people, they promote a false understanding of Native Americans, normalize culturally insensitive behaviors, and make them more likely to internalize stereotypes of racial minorities. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the country’s largest Native American advocacy organization, has been fighting to eliminate Native American mascots since the 1960s. Currently over 115 tribal, government, education, professional, civil rights, and religious organizations in the United States have recognized the negative health impacts of Native American mascots and called for their elimination. In Massachusetts, this includes the Chappaquiddick Tribe of the Wampanoag Nation, Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and Nipmuc Nation. Organizations in Massachusetts include Cultural Survival, Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness, Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs, Massachusetts Teachers Association, the New England Area Conference of the NAACP, North American Indian Center of Boston, and United American Indians of New England. In addition to NCAI, national organizations include the National Education Association, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Many school districts that have been confronted with this issue fear community backlash and so fail to take a stand. Civil rights issues must be addressed at the state level. S.247/H.443 will be a first step towards ending this harmful discrimination in our Massachusetts public schools.
I hope you will agree that Native American mascots have no place in our public schools. I ask that you please report this bill out of committee with a favorable vote.
(address, phone, email)
Call and/or Write Your Own State Legislators
Ask your state Senators to co-sponsor Bill S.247/H.443. Ask your state representatives to support Bill S.247/H.443. Senators can still sign on as co-sponsors, but the legislative deadline has passed for representatives to do so. Representatives can, however, can still advocate for S.247/H.443 on behalf of their constituents.
Sample Phone Script:
“My name is — from —. I am calling to ask for Rep/Sen —‘s support [as a co-sponsor (for Senators)] for Bill S.247/H.443 which would prohibit Native American Mascots in public schools across the Commonwealth. Our schools have a duty to provide a learning environment that is inclusive and free of all forms of discrimination.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
General Information about bill H.443/S.247
Bill Name: An Act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools in the Commonwealth
House Number: H.443 https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H443
Senate Number: S.247 https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/S247
House Petitioners: Nika C. Elugardo, Tami L. Gouveia
House Cosponsors: Jack Patrick Lewis, Maria Duaime Robinson, Denise Provost, Jason M. Lewis, Lindsay N. Sabadosa, Marjorie C. Decker, Jonathan Hecht, Natalie M. Higgins, Russell E. Holmes, Patricia D. Jehlen, David Henry Argosky LeBoeuf, Christina A. Minicucci, Tram T. Nguyen, Thomas M. Stanley
Senate Presenter: Joanne M. Comerford
Senate Cosponsors: Tami L. Gouveia, Jack Patrick Lewis, Denise Provost, Jason M. Lewis, James B. Eldridge, Mindy Domb, Patricia D. Jehlen, Maria Duaime Robinson, Ruth B. Balser
Committee: Joint Committee on Education
Bill Description: Currently about 38 public high schools in the state use Native American mascots. This bill would task the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education with establishing regulations to prohibit Native American mascots in Massachusetts public schools. Decades of social science research have shown that Native American mascots are harmful to both Native American and non-Native youth. These mascots are not educationally sound because they reflect and reinforce racial stereotypes and prejudice. Further, for Native American youth, they generate a hostile learning environment, and diminish self-esteem, capacity to imagine possible future selves, and faith in their communities. Multiple Native American tribal nations and other Native American organizations in Massachusetts have recognized the negative health impacts of Native American mascots and called for their elimination. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the country’s largest Native American advocacy group, has been fighting to end racist mascotry since the 1960’s.