Maine Becomes First State to Ban Native American Mascots at Public Schools and Universities
Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill into law Thursday banning public schools or universities in the state from using Native American mascots, names or imagery. Mills' action will make Maine the first state in the nation with such a ban once it goes into effect later this year, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Penobscot Nation Ambassador Maulian Dana told The Associated Press that the law was "a huge step toward trust and respect."
The news comes a little less than a month after Mills signed another bill replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day.
Mills Signs Bill To Make Maine The First State To Ban Native American School Mascots https://t.co/nZ0Y2Txpkb via… https://t.co/UgcYg7Isw9— Maine Public (@Maine Public)1558091417.0
The bill's signing also comes around two months after the last Maine public school district to use such a mascot decided to retire it. The Skowhegan school board voted to stop using the "Indians" name and mascot after a debate lasting more than four years, The Portland Press Herald reported. At one point, disagreement grew so heated that five police officers were assigned to a school board meeting. While the board's decision left open the possibility the name could be restored by a district-wide referendum, Thursday's bill has now made that impossible.
Mills had run on a promise to improve the relationship between the state of Maine and the Native American tribes that call it home, including removing offensive mascots, according to The Portland Press Herald.
Mills' statement on Thursday, reported by The Bangor Daily News, reflected this commitment:
"While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognize and honor a school's unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish."
"A mascot is a symbol of pride, but it is not the source of pride," Mills said. "Our people, communities and understanding and respect for one another are Maine's source of pride, and it is time our symbols reflect that."
The leadership of the four Wabanaki tribes in Maine–the Penobscot Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Aroostook Band of Micmacs and the Houlton Band of Maliseets–all opposed the Skowhegan mascot and supported the bill, The Portland Press Herald reported.
"Today and [from] now on, it is our collective responsibility to the next generations to promote each other as equals, as individuals, and most importantly, as neighbors," non-voting Passamaquoddy Tribe representative Rena Newell told The Bangor Daily News.
While Maine's bill is the first blanket ban by a state of the use of Native American names or mascots by public schools, Mills' office told The Associated Press that California, Oregon and Wisconsin had similar restrictions. California passed a law prohibiting public schools from using the name "Redskins" specifically in 2015. The Oregon Board of Education originally ordered all public schools with Native American names or mascots to change them by 2017, but later amended the rule, saying the schools could keep the mascots if they secured permission from a federally recognized tribe in the state. Wisconsin passed a law in 2010 allowing the state school superintendent to ban race-based mascots if a resident of a district complained. However, a new law was passed in 2013 to make it so that a hearing about a mascot could only be triggered if ten percent of a district's student body signed a petition complaining within 120 days.
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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