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Illinois bill requires rules for Native American mascot use
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Illinois bill requires rules for Native American mascot use

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ROCKFORD — A new bill would require Illinois schools that want to keep using Native American mascots and logos receive approval from local tribes if they want to participate in playoffs, among other requirements.

State Rep. Maurice West, a Rockford Democrat, pitched the plan to the Interscholastic Athletic Organization Act after students at Hononegah High School in Rockton led a protest over the use of the Princess Hononegah Indian mascot and other Native American imagery and iconography.

West's bill would prohibit Hononegah and other schools from using their Indian mascots and logos unless they complied with certain rules, according to the Rockford Register Star. Failure to meet them would make the school ineligible to participate in playoff competitions.

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“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,” said West.

He said there are 52 high schools in Illinois that would be would be affected. A hearing on the legislation is set for Wednesday in Springfield.

Some of the requirements include getting written approval from a tribe based within 500 miles and offering Native American culture programs and courses on at the school.

Hononegah students however, have asked the school board to completely end the school’s tradition of having a cheerleader dress as an Indian princess and dance at sporting events.

The school is named after an Indian woman named Hononegah, who was the wife of Rockton's first settler, Stephen Mack. But students want a new mascot and the Indian logo removed from the school.

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