Rockford lawmaker’s proposal comes after student-led protest at Hononegah

ROCKFORD — Illinois schools using Native American mascots and logos may be required to get written consent from local tribes and provide education on Native American history and culture if they want to participate in playoff-level competition.

State Rep. Maurice West, D-Rockford, pitched the amendment to the Interscholastic Athletic Organization Act last week.

The proposal comes on the heels of a student-led protest over the use of the Princess Hononegah Indian mascot and other Indian imagery and iconography at Hononegah High School in Rockton.

While the school is named after a real Indian named Hononegah, who was the wife of Rockton’s first settler, Stephen Mack, students asked the Hononegah School Board to end the school’s tradition of having a cheerleader dress in an Indian Princess costume and dance at sporting events, remove the Indian chief logo from the building and identify a new mascot for the school.

West’s bill would allow Hononegah to continue using the Indian name and Princess Hononegah mascot with conditions.

According to the proposed legislation, schools wanting to use a Native American logo, mascot of other Native American imagery would have to:

• receive the express written consent of a Native American tribe based within 500 miles of the school

• conduct a schoolwide program on Native American culture at least twice per school year

• offer a course of study to its students outlining Native American contributions to society

• file an annual report with the State Board of Education detailing what academic programs on Native Americans it has offered during the school year

Failure to meet the requirements of House Bill 4783 would led to ineligibility to participate in playoff competitions.

“There are logos and caricatures that have been used through the course of sports history that should have never existed and deserve to be left in the past,” West said on his website. “This legislation is an opportunity to ensure we are teaching our children how to properly respect the heritage and culture of Native Americans we draw inspiration from.”

Corina Curry: 815-987-1371;; @corinacurry



via Sports – Rockford Register Star

February 18, 2020 at 12:02PM