“The signing of this bill, the first of its kind in the United States, sets an example of a state government honoring the state’s tribes by passing meaningful legislation that promotes cultural diversity and awareness and signifies the state’s respect for all of its citizens,” the group said.
Although not as broad, similar steps have been taken by other states and educational institutions:
Public schools and universities
In 2012, Oregon’s Board of Education decided that all public schools must eliminate Native American team names and mascots or lose their funding. Gov. John Kitzhaber, a Democrat, signed a law in 2014 that allowed schools to use them only if the schools reached an agreement to do so with Oregon’s federally recognized tribes.
In Massachusetts, an act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools has been submitted to the Joint Committee on Education for a hearing.
California’s Racial Mascots Act has prohibited public schools from using “redskins” as a school or athletic team name, mascot or nickname since Jan. 1, 2017. But it came with exceptions: Schools could continue to use uniforms or materials with the name if they had been bought before that date.
Florida State University, whose mascot is the Seminoles, was one of 18 institutions that the N.C.A.A. in 2005 prohibited from using “mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin.” But the university was allowed to keep its mascot with approval from the 3,200-member Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Another of those institutions was the University of North Dakota, which dropped its Fighting Sioux nickname in 2012 in favor of the Fighting Hawks. The state of North Dakota has five federally recognized tribes and one Indian community at least partially within its borders, but there is no state law banning mascots. However, a new law protects the rights of Native American students to attach eagle feathers or plumes to their caps when they graduate.
The legislation went into effect immediately after Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, signed it in March — just in time for graduation.