CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In a last-minute vote Friday night, the Board of Education in Cambridge appealed a court decision to remove the “Indian” symbol. NEWS10 spoke with a board member and has the latest in those developments.
In a 3 to 1 vote, the Cambridge Central School Board will now officially appeal a Supreme Court order that upheld the Department of Education’s intervention against using its old mascot and slogan “the Cambridge Indians”. A school board member says the decision only comes after weighing all their legal options.
“It was a landslide victory, and it was basically a symbolic referendum of retaining the Cambridge ‘Indian’ logo and imagery,” says board member Dillon Honyoust.
Honyoust told NEWS10 that he believes the commissioner of the New York State Education Department is overstepping her boundaries. “Using threats like cutting state funding and removing school officials while claiming that she’s trying to protect our children. What’s going to really affect their children if you’ve cut school funding, is that protecting our children?” questioned Honyoust.
“As a Native American, I view it as it’s another effort to remove or cancel the American Indian culture,” said Hoynoust.
Honyoust feels his Native American heritage supports the board’s decision. However, Cambridge alum and local activist, John Kane of Mohwak descent, was one of the first to challenge the school’s use of “Indian” imagery and terminology.
“This is something that you’re told, ‘Well it’s always been there, so we’re going to continue to do it.’ Or, ‘It’s our way of honoring me to people,’ Kane said. “Well, if we are honored, then you’re not doing a very good job.”
Honyoust said he hopes there could be a middle ground and a peaceful resolution. “With the appeal process, if it goes through, we’ll be able to move forward and still be progressive,” says Honyoust. Honyoust feels that if the board does win its appeal, they will review the current imagery and look for ways to improve it and make it less offensive.
As the Cambridge Central School District’s Board of Education battles the New York Education Department’s commissioner, they have come up with a temporary fix to hide their symbol. Simply cover them, for now.