Governor signs mascot bill

Senate Bill 21-116, aka “the mascot bill,” was signed by Governor Jared Polis, Monday afternoon.
It was the final legislative step dictating that schools such as Yuma will need to eliminate Native American mascots, and any reference on anything school related, by June 2022, less than one year away. If not, school districts will face $25,000 monthly fines.

Yuma has gone by the “Indians” mascot since the mid-1930s, when the Yuma Union High School student body voted to switch from “Cornhuskers” after a presentation by a former Yuma resident about the history of Native Americans in the region. The arrowhead that used to be known as the “Yuma Point” found in this area was at the center of the change.
However, Yuma-1 will now be working toward a mascot change over the next 11 months. It was stated at last week’s board of education meeting that it will begin with a series of public meetings in the very near future. Superintendent Dianna Chrisman told the board that purchasing new uniforms, letterheads and anything else impacted by the law does not have to be done until the spring, but the process should start soon.
Besides uniforms and letterheads, the Indians emblem and/or the word “Indians” is littered throughout the Yuma schools, such as on gym floors, walls, scoreboards, track hurdles.
It likely will cost well above $200,000 to make all the changes. An amendment allows for impacted schools to apply for BEST grants to help with the costs. However, BEST Grant applications are submitted in February and approved in May, not leaving much time for the changeover.
Several Yuma residents testified before the Senate and House education committees, making the case for the reason Yuma changed to Indians, that any Native American youth growing up in Yuma did not feel bullied or disrespected due to the mascot, and that the mascot was treated with respect in Yuma. The Lee and Teresa Roubideaux family particularly were involved in fighting the legislation, also arguing that taking away Native American mascots will further push Native Americans into the background in society.
The Native American Guardians Association, which fights against the elimination of Native American mascots, has announced it planned to follow through on its threat to file a civil lawsuit against the State of Colorado for passing the bill.
However, as Chrisman noted last week, the timeline for the possible litigation is not known, and likely will not help the district in regards to making the change by the June 2022 deadline.
Look for more about future meetings on the subject in coming editions of the Pioneer.