CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York State Education Department is now requiring schools with a Native American mascot to find a replacement by the end of the 2022-2023 school year. It applies to all mascots, team names, and logos at all New York schools.
“I mean I don’t think a mascot should be the entirety of like what you teach about Native Americans,” says Mohawk Native, Rain Hill.
Native Americans in the Capital Region are having opposing thoughts on this issue. Some feel that eliminating mascots and images will also erase the culture they are proud of.
“As a Native American, I view it as another effort to remove or cancel the American Indians,” says Dillon Honyoust, member of the Board of Education, Cambridge Central School District.
Rain hill who is of mohawk descent and was raised on a New York reservation, supports the ruling.
“It’s like taking that stereotype away from us it’s not like you’re taking away an entire part of us that we’re like oh my God this is tragic but it’s like you’re taking away kind of a negative depiction of us as a people,” says Rain Hill.
Iroquois Museum curator Colette Lemmon adding that like with many things in life, not everyone will agree.
“One opinion among native people about whether or not this is right or wrong, you know just indigenous people and there’s going to be multiple. Each generation is going to have a different perspective based on people’s experiences so it’s not as clean cut as everyone feels this should change,” says Lemmon.
Hill says that if even one person is offended things should be changed.
“If you have a minority such as Native Americans within like your community, like campuses, and like you know that it could be something offensive than why would you do that?” Questioned Hill.
The only exception for these schools to be able to keep their mascots is that they must have approval from a recognized Native American tribe. Those who do not comply are at risk of having school officers removed and state aid withheld.