Board of Regents votes to ban Native American names, mascots, logos in public schools
The state's Board of Regents unanimously voted Tuesday to ban Native American mascots, team names and logos from all public schools.
The move means districts across the state and on Long Island have until June 2025 to make the changes.
Native American team names, logos and mascots of 11 Long Island school districts will have to be removed from high school gyms and athletic fields.
Jeremy Dennis, acting tribal preservation officer for the Shinnecock nation in Southampton, says the request to remove Native American mascots is something many tribes have asked for decades. He says some of the names and logos are insensitive.
"These are all stereotypical and caricatures of Native American culture," Dennis says. "We never use the word 'chief,' we use the word 'sachem'. That is actually pretty well-known here on Long Island."
Not everyone is happy about the impending changes. Laura Christopher, a mother of a Massapequa High School student, was upset about Tuesday's vote.
"This is history - they're trying to erase history," Christopher says.
Dennis says there are other ways to appreciate Native American history like an initiative to improve public education around Native Americans and their continued presence on Long Island and beyond.
The Wantagh Union Free School District posted a statement on their website, saying in part, "At this time, it is not the intent of the district to move away from the 'Warrior' name, but to develop new imagery that will proudly represent our school community and honor our history."
The schools that will be impacted by the ban on Long Island are:
Sachem East and Sachem North Flaming Arrows
East Islip Redmen