NY Schools told to stop using Native American Mascots and team names by the end of the current school year.
The state Department of Education has stated that schools in New York must cease using Native American symbols in their logos, team names, and mascots by the end of this school year to avoid losing state aid.
The memo from the department, published Thursday, stated that “Arguments that community members support such imagery or that they are respectful to Native Americans’ are no longer tenable.”
The memo stated that students learn just as much from observation as direct instruction. “Boards that continue to use Native American mascots in education must think about the message they send to parents, students, and their communities.”
The memo referred to a June state court ruling in favor of the department over the Cambridge Central Schools District north of Albany. New York’s decision to discontinue using the Native American reference in their team name last year, only to reverse it weeks later.
The 2001 directive by the state education department directing schools to cease using Native American imagery in schools was rescinded. According to the memo, districts that didn’t receive approval from a recognized tribe must immediately comply with the directive.
Cambridge Central sued the court over the order. The court dismissed it. The school district stated that it will appeal.
For years, Native American activists have voiced concern at all levels of sport, from schools to professional leagues. They have witnessed some teams change while others remain stubborn.
The National Congress of American Indians views mascots as harmful stereotypes. It maintains a list of K-12 schools with Native American-themed characters. This database includes just over 1,900 schools in 970 school districts across the United States, as well as more than 100 schools in New York.
According to the state education department, it was investigating the matter and believes that there are approximately 50-60 school districts in New York using such mascots.