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THE OREGONIAN BANS INDIAN NICKNAMES

Published: Monday, Feb. 17 1992 12:00 a.m. MST

Indians have disappeared from the sports pages of Oregon's largest newspaper, along with Braves, Redmen and Redskins.

The Oregonian has declared the nicknames of those sports teams offensive and will not print them."We do not expect the rest of the journalistic world to fall into line behind us, nor do we presume that our action will change any team names," Managing Editor Peter Thompson said in a statement.

"But we have concluded that we will not be a passive participant in perpetuating racial or cultural stereotypes in our community - whether by the use of nicknames or in any other way."

The Oregonian is believed to be the first major U.S. newspaper to adopt such a policy.

In its Sunday editions, the 432,000-circulation paper dropped references to the Braves in an Associated Press story about part-time Atlanta Braves player Deion Sanders leaning toward a career with the Atlanta Falcons football team.

The newspaper referred to the "National League champion Atlanta" or "the baseball team."

The policy will apply to any team from grade school through professional sports using an Indian nickname, Thompson said. So far, the policy has been limited to the four nicknames.

Sunday's Oregonian included references to the Miami Tribe, a team in the now-defunct Professional Spring Football League, and the Vancouver Canucks, a hockey team whose nickname some consider a derogatory term for Canadians.

Other nicknames might be dropped "if it becomes evident that they, too, are offensive," Editor William A. Hilliard said.

Indian groups have protested for years that ethnic nicknames and phony Indian costumes and gestures trivialize and mock their culture. Stanford University dropped the nickname "Indians" in 1972, and in 1989 the Minnesota Board of Education asked high schools to drop Indian nicknames, and many did.

Clyde Bellecourt, a founder of the Minneapolis-based American Indian Movement and spokesman for the newly formed National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, said he was excited by the decision.

But Dave Matheson, former Coeur d'Alene tribal chairman in Idaho, said that the protest is trivial and that attention should be focused instead on problems at reservations, including poor health care, unemployment and alcoholism.

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