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Lawmaker proposes resolution that discourages removing Native American names, symbols from schools

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BOISE — A local legislator will ask Idaho lawmakers to formally voice support for schools with Native American symbols or names.

If the Idaho legislature passes Rep. Chad Christensen’s, R-Ammon, upcoming resolution, they would be formally supporting schools that bear Native American names, images or symbols. They would also discourage any removal of those names, images or symbols without a consensus from local Native Americans.

“There’s been studies done throughout the country and the majority of these Natives are ok with these names. (The Native American Guardian’s Association) has a bunch of statistics about that — how these natives feel like it’s an honor,” Christensen told EastIdahoNews.com.

Native American Guardian’s Association is an organization led by Native Americans that works to stop schools from removing Native American names, images and symbols. The group focuses on using these to help educate the public about Native American history and heritage. Leaders tell EastIdahoNews.com that they support Christensen’s resolution.

RELATED: Christensen backing away from legislation that would ban schools from changing their mascots

“Our motto is ‘educate not eradicate,'” Native American Guardian’s Association founder Eunice Davidson said.

She explained that their goal is for Native American symbols used by schools and other organizations to be used respectfully and represent the local and historical tribes of the area.

They don’t want to them used as mascots and do not want people dressing up in Native American clothing or in a Native American costume.

“That’s not to honor anything, it’s to rev up a crowd. And a white person dressed up in native garb, running around, jumping around that has no idea what he’s doing. That is totally unacceptable,” David Davidson, Eunice’s husband said.

While the resolution is not binding, it asks any community that wishes to remove a Native American name from a school or government entity to do it through a “careful and effective public process,” according to a draft of the resolution.

“It’s the local community. And it’s those Native Americans within the local community who should be deciding. Not somebody from way out in New York coming to Driggs, Idaho and telling them, ‘You got to change that,'” David said.

Eunice said those who are trying to remove Native American names and symbols aren’t helping Native Americans.

“This movement that’s working to get rid of (Native American names, symbols and images) said they’ve gotten rid of over 2,000 of them. To me, that’s just going to be causing more of a genocide for our people,” Eunice said.

Christensen didn’t give a date for when he plans to introduce his resolution but said it will be soon.

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