Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Friday signed a bill banning “racially discriminatory” school mascots and the use of sundown sirens.
The bill comes amid a national push by Native Americans and allies to abolish the use of racist school mascots around the country.
Formally known as Assembly Bill 88, Nevada’s new bill prohibits the use of “a name, logo, mascot, song or other identifier associated with the Confederate States of America or a federally recognized Indian tribe,” except in cases where a tribe has explicitly given a school permission to do so.
The bill could affect up to 20 schools in Clark County, including the mascot of a Native American wearing a headdress used by Western High School, but will not affect universities.
Additionally, it requires the Nevada State Board of Geographic Names to recommend name changes for any geographic features and places with offensive names.
It also orders that communities stop sounding alarms at sundown, which historically were the symbol of sundown towns, which “required persons of a particular race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin or color to leave the town by a certain time.”
This measure is aimed at the town of Minden, where a fire siren blast goes off at 6:00 p.m. every night, a daily reminder of the town’s racist past with a law dating back to 1917 that kicked members of the Washoe tribe out of the town by 6:30, according to the Record-Courier newspaper.
Minden’s official status as a sundown town changed in 1974 when the ordinance was eliminated, but locals who have lived there for generations still grapple with the knowledge of what the sirens used to symbolize.
“It’s something that is still deeply hurtful,” the bill’s sponsor, Democratic state assemblyman Howard Watts told KRNV. “There are still members of the Washoe Tribe and others who know exactly what it means when that goes off.”