Salamanca City Central School District
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New York Board of Regents officially approves ban on mascots related to indigenous people

April 19, 2023
The state's education department issued a directive last year telling schools they must stop using Native American references in team names, logos and mascots.

The New York Board of Regents has officially banned all uses of images and names for school mascots related to indigenous people.

The Albany Times-Union reports that the regents without discussion unanimously approved the directive announced in November 2022 by the state Education Department.

State education officials have been urging school boards to begin the process to change mascot images and names, and some have: Glens Falls replaced its “Indians” mascot with the “Black Bears,” and Corinth replaced “Tomahawks” with “River Hawks.” At Waterford-Halfmoon, where students are the “Fordians” in reference to the town of Waterford, the school board has voted to remove the indigenous head images used throughout the district. 

However, officials at many district officials opted to wait until the proposal was approved by the Board of Regents, and pressed for details on whether they could keep names with slight changes, such as keeping Raiders or Warriors but dropping images of indigenous people.

The Education Department convened an advisory group of indigenous people to make recommendations on those questions. All of the proposals were rejected; advisory group members called such changes an “evasion.”

The Education Department’s policy allows districts to keep their mascots or nicknames if they get the approval of a specific indigenous group. But the Oneida Indian Nation issued a statement that it would not approve any requests to support a district keeping a mascot that refers to indigenous people. Other nations released similar statements.

The New York Times reports that the Salamanca school district in western New York was in discussions with the Seneca Nation about keeping the district's mascot--the Warriors. The district is situated inside the reservation lands of the Seneca Nation.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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