LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Another New York school district is examining its mascot and logo history, following a requirement late last year from the state Department of Education calling for Native American mascots to be removed from schools by the end of the 2022-23 school year. At Lake George Central School District, that means it’s time to call off the “Warriors.”
“This week, the New York State Board of Regents officially adopted the regulation prohibiting the use of Indigenous names, mascots and logos by public schools,” the district wrote last week, following the finalization of the regulations. “We do anticipate further guidance from the New York State Education Department (NYSED), however, based on this information the ‘Warriors’ nickname and mascot fall under this regulation and will need to be retired.”
For Lake George, the process to replace the “Warriors” title and mascot will be similar to what neighboring districts have gone through. A student advisory group of Lake George students was formed in January, consisting of members of grades 7-12. The process is ongoing, with the next student advisory meeting set for Thursday, April 27, to lay down a plan to involve the community and other stakeholders.
Student groups played a large role in the recent decision to change the Glens Falls City School District mascot and name to the Glens Falls Black Bears. Over the course of two months, a student advisory group worked with the school, gathering data from surveys filled out by students, neighbors, and stakeholders, to find out what they would want the new name to be – and what values it should represent. Corinth Central School District recently changed its own mascot to the River Hawks.
The state-level mandate on indigenous imagery removal came about by way of an advisory committee of members of Indigenous tribes, whose responsibility was to weigh in on what different images and names do for representation and stereotyping. This month, Lake George’s student advisory group has followed in kind, with students researching how Native American groups feel about mascot depictions, and why. Previous meetings have focused on understanding the history of indigenous depictions and setting goals to develop a better understanding of the region’s history.
The work comes at a time of recent change for school administration. Lake George Superintendent John Luthringer is in his first school year with the district, after previously teaching at Queensbury Union Free School District. The state mandate may not have come yet, but Luthringer says he took the job well aware that it could.
“Prior to my arrival, I knew the board of education had already previously designated the warrior mascot as a heritage symbol and widespread use of the mascot had previously been phased out in the district for over the past 10 years or so,” Luthringer said on Tuesday. “I also knew there were potential legislative bills pertaining to this topic in various stages at the state level, and I was aware of how Native Americans felt about this issue at the state and national level. So to that extent, I was aware that I would have likely encountered this at some point in my role here in Lake George.”
Lake George Central School District has until the end of the 2022-23 school year to make a decision. Statewide, indigenous mascots, logos, and names must be retired by July 1, unless given an exemption via Notice of Appeal.
The Lake George region has a close relationship with Native American history, having played roles in the French & Indian War, as well as the Revolutionary War – with landmarks like Battlefield Park and Fort William Henry keeping the memory alive. The village and town of Lake George sit on Mohawk, Haudenosaunee, Mohican, and Abenaki land, according to native-land.ca.