The Washington State Board of Education is asking all schools to do away with Native American mascots -- part of an effort to close what state education officials call a widening gap between Native American students and their white counterparts.

Any little thing we can do to help close this gap is important, said Board spokesman Aaron Wyatt.

That's just ridiculous, said Terri McQuillen, a member of the Makah tribe on the Olympic Peninsula. She recently testified at a meeting regarding Port Townsend High School's mascot, the Redskin.

My kids all went through that school, and they're all doing just fine, she said. I was taught to be proud to be a Redskin.

Education officials point to studies that show self-esteem issues among Native American students.

We are in the business of educating students, said Board member Bernal Baca. We need to remove any barriers that will impede student success.

The Board said it's only recommending that schools do away with Native American mascots. Ultimately, the decision will rest with each individual school.

Oregon's state Board of Education voted in May to ban Native American mascots, nicknames and logos. Schools in that state have five years to comply. Eight Oregon high schools are affected.

Read the resolution adopted this week by Washington's SOE.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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