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Walker mum on indian mascot bill

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Governor Scott Walker is still not saying whether he'll sign the bill making it harder to force public schools to drop their Indian team-names and mascots. Tribal groups and Democrats have urged the governor to veto it. A letter from Democrats said it would teach students to tolerate racial stereo-tying.

Director Jim Zorn of the Great Lakes Indian Fish-and-Wildlife Commission says the bill could cause prejudice against Indians similar to the 1980's, when white fishermen stirred up large protests at boat landings where Indians were exercising their spear-fishing rights. Zorn told the governor quote, "Tribes and tribal communities alone are entitled to claim-and-control their symbols, their titles, and their culture."

Both the Senate and Assembly voted in recent weeks to scale back a complaint system against school Indian mascots approved by Democrats in 2009. Republicans were standing behind the Mukwonago School District, which refused to follow a state order to drop its Indian name and logo.

Walker's office says it's still evaluating the measure. He could put the law into effect by ignoring it. That would happen if he doesn't do anything by December 18th.

U-W La Crosse professor Joe Heim says the governor would not have much to lose politically by signing the measure less than a year before he stands for re-election. Heim said it might upset Indians, but he says they're not a major force at the polls.