ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As the 2023-2024 school year is about to begin, some Capital Region school districts have chosen new mascots and names while others are still in the process of getting rid of their Indigenous imagery. Around 15 districts in the area needed to change this imagery.
In November 2022, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) sent a ruling to all New York school districts, requiring those with a Native American mascot to find a replacement. The directive applies to mascots, team names, and logos.
In April, the Board of Regents officially approved the mandate. Over 100 schools in New York were affected by the ruling.
If schools want to keep their mascots, they must have expressed approval from a recognized Native American tribe. Those who do not comply with NYSED’s ruling are at risk of having school officers removed and state aid withheld.
According to the mandate, these schools must have new team names in place by 2025. Here’s where the Capital Region school districts stand on changing their Indigenous names and mascots.
In June, Averill Park Central School District’s Board of Education passed a resolution to dissolve the “Warriors” nickname. Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, a student-led leadership group will begin the process of choosing a new nickname with input from students, staff and the community, said the district’s website.
In October 2022, the Cambridge Central School District appealed the New York State’s Supreme Court decision that would remove the school’s mascot. In February, the school board filed another lawsuit appealing an earlier court ruling siding in favor of NYSED Commissioner Betty Rosa, arguing that the commissioner overstepped her authority when it came to banning the “Indians” name and mascot.
In June, South Colonie Central School District’s Board of Education adopted a resolution to rebrand and phase out the name “Raiders” over two years. In an August update, Superintendent David Perry said the board is looking at three potential names and is working to develop logos and imagery for those. Once they are ready, the district will be asking for community feedback before picking a new name.
At a March 27 board meeting, the Corinth Central School District changed its name from “Tomahawks” to “River Hawks.”
The Coxsackie-Athens Central School District actually changed its name and mascot before the official NYSED ruling. The district changed from “Indians” to “Riverhawks” in 2021.
The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District orginally submitted a document to the Board of Regents in March in an attempt to keep the “Braves” name. The district claimed they had the support of the Mohawk Nation through a letter that was signed by Dr. Tom Porter, a local Native American who said he had ties to the Mohawk Nation. But in an email from the education department to the district, they wrote: “We are not aware of Dr. Porter representing a federally recognized tribal nation within the state of New York.”
Due to this, the request was denied. The district then accepted community input on the new mascot. According to the Fonda-Fultonville website, a committee will start reviewing the submitted name suggestions in the fall. The suggested names will be complied and voted on at the end of the upcoming school year.
In April, the Glens Falls City School District unveiled its new name and logo to be “Black Bears,” replacing the “Indian Warrior” logo and name. The new logo was revealed in June.
In June, the Hoosic Valley Central School District unveiled its new name “Hawks” based on a community survey. The district is now putting together a committee to focus on rebranding, the new logo and retiring its current mascot.
In August, the Lake George Central School District announced its new name “Lakers” to replace “Warriors” after months of surveys and input from the community. Rebranding and a new logo for the “Lakers” name will take place in the fall.
The Mechaniville City School District Board of Education adopted a resolution in June to comply with the state’s mandate and get rid of the “Red Raider” name.
The Mohanasen Central School District passed a resolution in June commiting to change the “Warrior” name and two logos. Superintendent Shannon Shine said the district is beginning to phase out the two logos first.
Shine said the district is watching some legal mascot cases in Long island to see how they turn out before deciding if they want to pursue legal action about changing the “Warrior” name. If they must replace the name, the district will put together a committee to help come up with the new name.
In June, the Niskayuna Central School District Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution to change its team names. While the district doesn’t currently use indigenous imagery, they will change the “Silver Warriors” and “Mohawks” names. The district started looking at new names over the summer but nothing has been announced yet.
In June, the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District held an online survey about what the new name should be to rebrand from “Indians.” Frontrunners include Raptors, Ravens, Bull Dogs, Eagles, Hornets, Panthers, RailRiders, Swarm, and Yellow Jackets. The district said it continues to work with the public to choose a name.
On April 19, Schoharie Central School District’s Board of Education voted to stop using the previous Indigenous mascot and adopt Schoharie Storm as the new mascot. The logo was oficially unveiled in June.
In May, the Stillwater Central School District Board of Education passed a resolution to remove the “Warriors” name and imagery.