Maine has become the first US state to ban Native American mascots for school and university sports teams.
Under a new law all educational establishments will be barred from using team names or symbols that are derived from Native American tribes or customs.
It follows a wider backlash against such designations, which the American Civil Liberties Union claims “perpetuate racism and bigotry”.
Professional sports teams, including the Washington Redskins American football team, and the Cleveland Indians baseball team, have faced calls to change their names.
The Washington Redskins have argued the team’s name is actually a tribute to Native Americans and are keeping it.
Maine’s Democrat governor Janet Mills signed the Act to Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools..
She said: “While Indian mascots were often originally chosen to recognise and honour a school’s unique connection to Native American communities in Maine, we have heard clearly and unequivocally from Maine tribes that they are a source of pain and anguish.”
The move was welcomed by Maine’s four Native American tribes, which include about 15,000 people.
Maulian Dana, the Penobscot Nation’s tribal ambassador, said: “It sends a message of truth and honour and respect. It is part of a big picture of historical oppression of indigenous people.”
The National Congress of American Indians said Maine would be “on the right side of history.”
Similar attempts to ban the use of Native American team names and symbols are under way in other states including Massachusetts.
In 2017 California passed the Racial Mascots Act which barred school and university teams from using the nickname “redskins”.
The University of North Dakota has also changed its nickname from the “Fighting Sioux” to the “Fighting Hawks”.
Donald Trump has previously expressed support for the name of the Washington Redskins, saying he knew Native Americans who were “proud” of the name and thought it was “positive”.
The decision in Maine came after controversy over the “Skowhegan Indian,” the mascot of Skowhegan Area Middle School.
A spokesman for the National Congress of American Indians said: “Rather than honouring Native peoples these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”