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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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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