Native Americans Sue Colorado Over Mascot Ban

( In November, a Native American group filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado for passing a law that would ban schools from using American Indian mascots. The group argued that the ban, which was signed into law in June is discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.

In their lawsuit, the Plaintiffs argued that the law doesn’t ban all “race-based caricatures, historically inaccurate portrayals of cultures, or racially hostile environments based on a school’s images,” which they claim would have been entirely different. Instead, the lawsuit argues, the law singles out Native Americans “for differential treatment” which puts them at a distinct disadvantage compared to other races.

The law, which goes into effect June 1, 2022, would fine any public school, college, or university $25,000 a month if they continue using Native American-themed mascots. According to William Trachman, the attorney representing the group, the ban unlawfully enacts state-sanctioned race discrimination. The plaintiffs were seeking an emergency injunction to prevent the law from going into effect.

But on December 1, a judge denied the injunction request ruling that there was no emergency since the ban won’t go into effect until June of next year.

In her ruling, Judge Regina Rodriguez wrote that the Plaintiffs can’t request an “emergency” order to enjoin an action that isn’t happening for months. The judge determined that the plaintiffs did not establish that they will suffer “immediate injury” which would be necessary to order an emergency injunction.

Attorney William Trachman said that they intend to appeal the judge’s decision with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and will request a motion for an injunction pending the appeal.

According to the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, there are currently 28 public schools in Colorado that still use Native American mascots. Two of those schools, Arapahoe High School and the Strasburg School District, were exempted from the mascot ban and will be permitted to keep their mascots after June 1, 2022, since they were designed through agreements with federally-recognized tribes.

The law will also permit tribal schools to use Native American mascots.