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State votes to end Indigenous mascots in schools

A storage garage behind Cambridge High School in northern New York in 2021.
Madison Amico
A storage garage behind Cambridge High School in northern New York in 2021.

The New York State Board of Regents voted Tuesday to end the use of Indigenous names, mascots, and logos by public schools.

Onondaga Nation General Counsel Joe Heath said it’s a step in the right direction.

"It just perpetuates the incorrect Colonial image that Indigenous people were very violent, and therefore, they had to be subdued and assimilated and civilized, and of course, that's not at all true," he said.

The move could affect multiple local districts, including Liverpool and Westhill, which are both called the Warriors. A spokesperson for Liverpool said at this point, they’re waiting for further guidance from the New York State Department of Education.

The department said the cost of changing imagery on buildings, signs, gym floors, and sports fields can be partially offset by building aid from the state. But it adds, schools should have been planning for this for decades, to reduce expenses and to protect Indigenous students.

Heath agrees.

"It certainly has a harmful impact on children that their cultures, their languages, their histories are not respected or understood,” he said. “So, it should be very beneficial to the Indigenous children that this practice ends."

Under the ruling, boards of education in affected districts will have to eliminate the use of Indigenous names, logos, and mascots by the end of the 2024-2025 school year.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.