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Indian mascot bill up for a vote in state Assembly Tuesday

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin schools would find it much easier to keep their Indian nicknames and mascots, under a bill up for a vote in the state Assembly Tuesday.

The Republican bill would weaken a 2009 Democratic law in which the state takes complaints about Indian names, decides if they discriminate, and can order school boards to change the names or face heavy fines.

The bill's supporters say it would force Indians to prove they've been discriminated against. Opponents say the state would tolerate more discrimination.

The GOP bill would make Indians prove they've been hurt by their school nicknames, instead of school boards having to prove otherwise. Also, one person would no longer be able to file a complaint.

The bill requires petitions with signatures totaling at least 10 percent of a school's population.

The Administration Department would handle the complaints instead of the Department of Public Instruction, after a judge ruled that the DPI's process was biased against the schools.

The bill also nullifies the DPI's previous orders to change Indian names -- including Mukwonago, which refuses to abide by the state's order to drop its "Indians" name.