New York Public Schools Barred from Using Native American Mascots

Student Omar Cruz, 20, inside the State Farm Center as he portrays Chief Illiniwek during halftime at a University of Illinois basketball game on February 28, 2016, in Champaign, Ill. Chief Illiniwek was the official mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but was retired in 2007 after controversy …
Erin Hooley/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

New York public schools have been barred from using Native American mascots like Warriors, Chiefs, Redmen, or Braves.

The Albany Board of Regents, which oversees the New York education department, voted to “phase out Native American-related nicknames as part of a politically correct national effort to scrub racially insensitive imagery from sports teams,” according to the New York Post.

“Nearly 60 school districts will be required to ‘eliminate’ all use of Indigenous-related mascots and imagery by the end of the 2024-2025 school year, or risk losing state aide, board members unanimously ruled,” noted the Post. “The new ban, supported by the Shinnecock Indian Nation and Oneida Indian Nation, does not apply to tribal schools.”

Regent Kathleen Cashin said the new policy stems from a desire to “elevate all people.”

“It’s the right thing to do. Our desire is to elevate people, not diminish them. We want to elevate all people,” she told the Post.

“The Department does not anticipate that any team names, logos, or mascots that contain vestiges of prohibited team names, logos, or mascots will be considered acceptable,” said New York State Department of Education spokesperson JP O’Hare.

The move to eliminate Native American-themed mascots in the Empire States goes as far back as 2001 when former education commissioner Richard Mills called upon schools “to end the use of Native American mascots as soon as practical,” adding that they “can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and
improving academic achievement for all students.”

People march to TCF Bank Stadium to protest against the mascot for the Washington Redskins before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on November...

People march to TCF Bank Stadium to protest against the mascot for the Washington Redskins before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on November 2, 2014, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

As many as 133 schools in 55 districts still had such mascots in 2022. However, some parents feel the move goes too far and will eliminate history.

“We shouldn’t be erasing history, we should be learning from it,” one parent told the New York Times. “I know I am in the vast majority when I say we want to keep our Warrior name and should be allowed to do so. I will forever be a Mohonasen Warrior.”

Republican New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik blasted the move as being part of a woke agenda.

“Upstate New York and the North Country take pride in our history and forcing them to replace these historical mascots is prioritizing the Far Left mob at the expense of our students’ education,” Stefanik said. “Schools should be focused on education, and, while our local teachers and administrators are working tirelessly to educate our students after pandemic lockdowns deprived them of educational and developmental opportunities, the Hochul Administration’s priorities are entirely misplaced.”

“As New York’s most senior member on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, I will stand against the Far Left woke agenda and provide critical oversight to ensure schools in New York’s 21st District have the funds to equip our next generation,” she added.

Powwow attendee Sonny Hensley holds an anti-mascot button to protest using Indians as mascots for sports teams at the 10th Annual New Years Eve...

Powwow attendee Sonny Hensley holds an anti-mascot button to protest using Indians as mascots for sports teams at the 10th Annual New Year’s Eve Sobriety Powwow on January 1, 2003, in Columbus, Ohio. (Mike Simons/Getty Images)

While the Cleveland Indians eliminated Chief Wahoo and the Washington Redskins changed their name to the Commanders, other sports teams like the Atlanta Braves, the Florida Seminoles, and the Golden State Warriors have resisted calls to change the mascot.

As Breitbart News reported in February, Democrats in New York have also introduced a bill to ban children from playing tackle football, arguing that it puts them at undue risk of injury. Dubbed the John Mackey Youth Football Protection Act in honor of former NFL player John Mackey, a New York native who died of traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 2011, the bill aims to ban all tackle football for children 12 and under.

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