ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR) — School districts in New York can no longer use Native American names, mascots, imagery, or logos, according to an Education Department (NYSED) requirement from 2022. And in a meeting on Tuesday, the New York State Board of Regents unanimously approved.
Some consider it a ban, and others consider it a basic standard. The directive includes school paperwork, team jerseys, and even the sides of school buildings emblazoned with words, images—and sometimes, even slurs—lifted from Native American culture.
Back in November, NYSED sent the ruling to all New York school districts, directing those with a Native American mascot to find a replacement, citing the “need to ensure that district mascots, team names, and logos are non-discriminatory.” The message from NYSED Senior Deputy Commissioner James N. Baldwin added that schools choosing to use Native American mascots is a reflection of “the message their choices convey to students, parents and their communities.”
It further quoted the 2001 words of former Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills:
The use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students. […] There is a state interest in providing a safe and supportive learning environment for every child. […] End the use of Native American mascots as soon as practical.