All New York Schools Must Ditch Their Native American Mascots by the End of the Academic Year

Rick Bowmer

The New York Department of Education has given an ultimatum to schools in the state: get rid of your Native American team names, mascots, and logos by the end of the school year or face severe penalties, including the loss of state aid.


“Arguments that community members support the use of such imagery or that it is ‘respectful’ to Native Americans are no longer tenable,” the department said in the memo, issued Thursday.

Why not? Who says it’s not “tenable”? And why dismiss the usual overwhelming community support for a Native American mascot so cavalierly?

“Students learn as much through observation of their surroundings as they do from direct instruction,” the memo added. “Boards of education that continue to utilize Native American mascots must reflect upon the message their choices convey to students, parents, and their communities.”

And the board of education might reflect on the lessons in democracy it’s teaching kids.


The memo pointed to a state court’s June ruling in favor of the department over the Cambridge Central School District north of Albany, New York, which decided to stop using a Native American reference in its team name last year only to reverse itself weeks later.

The state education department, which had issued a directive in 2001 for schools to stop using Native American imagery as soon as was practical, ordered the district to abide by its initial decision. The memo said districts that don’t have approval from a recognized tribe to continue using the imagery “must immediately come into compliance.”


The reason the school had to reverse its decision to get rid of the Native American mascot was the intense uproar in the community. New York schools that use some kind of Native American imagery will find similar levels of opposition when trying to change a beloved tradition.

Related: ESPN Invites Wrath of Woke Gods, Mistakenly Refers to Cleveland Guardians as ‘Indians’

The idea that these mascots give offense is ludicrous. The portrayal of Native Americans as mascots — except in rare cases — is done to honor the courage of the warrior. The mascots are beloved because they represent pride and memory — two powerful emotions shared by all regardless of race: pride in the accomplishments of the students and the fond memories shared by graduates even decades later when they glimpse their school mascot or page through an old yearbook.

Native American activists have been vocal about the issue at all levels of sports from schools to professional leagues for years, and have seen some teams makes changes while others have proved resistant.

The National Congress of American Indians considers the mascots to be harmful stereotypes. It maintains a database of K-12 schools that it says have Native American-themed mascots, puts the number at just over 1,900 schools across the country in 970 school districts, including more than 100 schools in New York.


The villains in this drama are the radical anti-traditionalists who never met a tradition they didn’t try to destroy. Native American activists see the mascots as a wedge issue that gets them publicity and sympathy from left-wing donors. Meanwhile, those communities who have taken pride in their Native American mascots and don’t see the need to change them are either going to have to obey the state department of education or go to court.


Trending on PJ Media Videos

Join the conversation as a VIP Member