NY Becomes the Latest State to Ban Native American Mascots

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19 Apr 2023, 6:29 pm

https://www.npr.org/2023/04/19/1170590167/native-american-school-mascots-new-york-ban


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19 Apr 2023, 6:39 pm

This seems reasonable. It doesn't make it impossible for an entity to use the imagery in a respectful manner with permission, but it'd be nice to see disrespectful uses vanish.


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20 Apr 2023, 1:14 pm

State's ban of Native American mascots causes confusion and defiance among LI schools
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The state Board of Regents’ vote on Tuesday to ban the use of Native American mascots, team names and logos in public schools has sparked confusion among some Long Island administrators — and defiance among others.

The ban, which could affect about a dozen Long Island school districts, was unanimously approved in Albany by the 17-person Board of Regents. Districts will have until the end of the 2024-25 school year to remove Native American references from uniforms, scoreboards, fields and buildings on school property.

Districts that do not comply will be deemed in violation of the Dignity For All Students Act and risk being denied state aid, according to the state Education Department. School officials in those districts also will be at risk of losing their jobs if they fail to comply.

Roger Tilles represents Long Island on the Board of Regents, which oversees the state Education Department. Tilles said that, when it comes to schools that fall within a perceived gray area, the commissioner of education will make a decision on a “case-by-case basis” with input from an Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group composed of tribal leaders.

They’re going to have to see the context of it," Tilles said. "That’s going to be the important thing."

Schools can keep a team name if it is endorsed by a federally recognized tribe. There is one federally recognized tribe on Long Island, the Shinnecock, which supports the ban.

An April 6 Regents item cites Braves and Warriors as only acceptable to keep if they have not historically been associated with indigenous imagery. The item also said it would no longer allow team names such as Indians. The Education Department will also prohibit the use of any "name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to Indigenous persons, tribes, nations, individuals, customs, symbols, or traditions, including actual or stereotypical aspects of Indigenous cultures."

Bob Lowry, deputy director for advocacy, research and communications for the state council of school superintendents, said he had hoped for more clarity as soon as the vote was official.

“There are districts that have questions,” he said. “Warriors is an obvious one. Braves could be another. And in some cases, school boards may be holding out hope that somehow their nickname may be permissible and may have deferred taking any steps until that becomes clear. We were all waiting for the regulations to be adopted and I would caution superintendents that the regulations by themselves don’t provide much clarity. ... We haven’t questioned the substance of what the department is trying to do, but we do hear frustrations from school officials about the process.”

A source within the Education Department said additional guidance would be forthcoming, adding that “the adopted mascot regulations require that any team names, logos, or other associated imagery connected with Indigenous peoples or Nations are vestiges of practices contrary to the requirements of the proposed regulations … and would need to change." Team names and mascots are exempt if the school has never historically tied them to indigenous peoples or nations, the source said.

Hours after the vote, Wantagh Superintendent John McNamara said the district hoped to keep the team name but would phase out their Indian head mascot.

“They've alluded that there will be more specific guidelines forthcoming and we're trying to keep it in perspective,” McNamara told Newsday. “We certainly understand which Native American logos that they're looking to remove. We feel we can rebrand the Warrior nickname and engage with the community to come up with new imagery around those changes. The definition of a Warrior is not specific to the Native American Indians. It's a generic term that's used widely. We can successfully rebrand it."

Tilles said he did not think it was likely schools could keep the Warriors name and change the imagery if the name had been historically tied to an indigenous symbol.

Massapequa’s Board of Education said in a statement that the Board of Regents “is overextending its reach and removing our local control,” and that the name honors the town’s native history.

“We have heard from many members of our community upset by this decision, and we stand beside you,” the Board of Education wrote in a statement. “We are Massapequa and we will not sit idly by while an unelected group of officials tries to remove our history. We are in the process of reviewing the decision and investigating all options with legal counsel.”

The process is unlikely to be a cheap one.

The cost of the changes could exceed $400,000 per district, according to Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director of Section VIII, the governing body of interscholastic sports in Nassau County. Districts are expected to pay for the necessary changes but can petition the state for aid for any project that exceeds $10,000. The aid will be granted at the discretion of the commissioner of education, who can also grant a time extension to schools that show "good cause."

Manhasset discussed the issue in a February Board of Education meeting, with board President Patricia Aitken saying that, as a higher-income district, it does not expect to receive significant building aid from the state to offset the costs of changing turf fields and other things branded with the Indians logo.

In the Regents item, the Education Department noted that schools had 20 years to phase out imagery, beginning in 2001, when it was first recommended that districts do so.

n that item, state Education Department Deputy Commissioner Angelique Johnson-Dingle said the department planned to draft and release further guidance on what names will be prohibited in partnership with "educators and Indigenous Nations." The item did not say when those guidelines would be released.

An Indigenous Mascot Advisory Group, comprised of tribal leaders, has "advised and continues to advise, the Department in making determinations regarding actual or proposed team names, logos or mascots," the item said. It also rejected the premise that the names honor indigenous people.

"It's long overdue," said Tela Troge, a lawyer and representative for the Shinnecock Indian Nation. As a federally recognized tribe, the Shinnecock may provide exemptions to schools wishing to keep their mascots, but she did not anticipate any such action.

The American Psychological Association and the New York Association of School Psychologists support the ban. Indigenous mascots create "lowered self-esteem, lowered opinion of future personal achievement, lowered opinion of community worth," the New York Association of School Psychologists said in a statement.

Some local athletes have spoken out against the ban.

"There’s a lot of pride behind the name Redmen at our school," said East Islip junior Kailyn Bloch, who is on the bowling team. "It’s in all of our gear for sports and I’m proud to wear it so I don’t want [the name] to go away.”

Added Wantagh junior wrestler Anthony Clem: "Our Warriors nickname is inspiring in that it makes us work harder to achieve our goals. To me the name Warriors represents bravery and strength and that in itself is a great motivator. We are proud to be Wantagh Warriors. We definitely don't want them to change our name."

Logos with things such as feathers will also be scrutinized.

"While there is nothing inherently offensive about a feather, such images take on different meaning when used by school districts ... that have a history of utilizing stereotypical names and imagery," the regents item read. "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."

Additionally, public schools will prohibit school officers and employees from promoting indigenous names, logos or mascots when on school property or at school functions. Originally, that prohibition extended to all people on school property or at school events, but the April addition said that this may not be enforceable (this will not extend to school employees who are members of a tribal nation).

Schools, however, will not have to destroy old trophies, photographs or banners, since "the intent of the regulation is not to pretend that Indigenous mascots were never used but to eliminate their use going forward," the item said. "Harmful as they may be, the use of Indigenous mascots, like the forced relocation of Native American tribes, is a historical fact that must be acknowledged."

As you might have noticed from the article, many Long Island village names have Indian origins. I would bet before I die they will all be changed. Actually, I am surprised they have not gotten around to those names yet.

While tribal leaders are offended by the names I wonder if the average Native American feels that way. That is not a rhetorical question, I don't know.


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20 Apr 2023, 1:36 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
As you might have noticed from the article, many Long Island village names have Indian origins. I would bet before I die they will all be changed. Actually, I am surprised they have not gotten around to those names yet.

While tribal leaders are offended by the names I wonder if the average Native American feels that way. That is not a rhetorical question, I don't know.


Personally I'd be pretty surprised if place names start to change. New people borrowing the old name for an area is a very old practice. Even in Europe there's place names left over from peoples who have long since ceased to exist in the area.


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21 Apr 2023, 1:36 pm

funeralxempire wrote:
This seems reasonable. It doesn't make it impossible for an entity to use the imagery in a respectful manner with permission, but it'd be nice to see disrespectful uses vanish.


How do they determine whether an image is respectful or not?


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21 Apr 2023, 5:11 pm

School team names with 'any connection' to Native American people must change, state says
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Schools with teams names such as Warriors, Chiefs, Braves and Thunderbirds that have used indigenous imagery will have to change their names, according to David Frank, an assistant commissioner with the state Department of Education who on Friday provided the clearest information yet on how the state's new policy banning Native American mascots will play out.

"The department’s position on this is clear," Frank said. "If any team, mascots, logos or names have any connection to indigenous nations or peoples, either at the present time or in the past, they need to change their team name."

The Comsewogue, Wyandanch and Wantagh districts will need to replace the name Warriors based on the directive.

"We understand our 'Warriors' name will not be permitted," Comsewogue Superintendent Jennifer Quinn said in a statement. "We are in consultation with the several other districts who also use 'Warriors' to determine what we might do together regarding the state's position in this matter. We have informed the NYS Education Department, in very clear terms, our disappointment and disagreement.... After consultation with our legal counsel, the other "Warrior" districts, and our community, we will consider what our options are and what our next steps should be."

Schools whose “Warrior” nickname never had indigenous ties, like the upstate Chenango Valley Warriors, who use an ancient Greek figure as a mascot, will not have to make a change, Frank said. No “Warriors” school on Long Island falls under this category.

Frank said the new state rule will not allow team names that have “any vestiges” to Native American names or images, even if districts remove the indigenous imagery that goes with them. This also applies to schools that phased out their indigenous imagery before the rule was passed earlier this week, such as the Amityville Warriors, and schools with less immediate, overt ties to Native American imagery, like the Connetquot and Half Hollow Hills East Thunderbirds.

Yes," Frank said, "those team names do need to change.”

The decision on Thunderbirds, a name that is derived from a Native American mythical creature, does have precedent, with Colorado including them in a similar statewide ban that went into effect in 2021.

Asked about districts that defy the mandate, Frank said, "We don't want to focus on the punitive side of things. We're hopeful that the vast majority of schools and districts, as we've already seen across the state ... are already engaged in these processes [of change].

"No one wants to get to those penalties," he added, "and I'm confident that educators across New York State will see the effects these vestiges of the past are having on indigenous peoples in the modern day and make those changes."

He affirmed Massapequa's right to seek legal counsel - something the district said it planned to do in its statement - but added, "they should talk to the indigenous peoples of Long Island and see what impact it has on them."

There is no appeals process, Frank said, but he encouraged districts to contact the department if they had further questions.

Neither the Shinnecock, which are federally recognized, or the Unkechaug, which are state recognized, said they expected to grant an exemption, and Frank did not believe one has been granted by any indigenous nation at this point. The exemption must also come from a legitimate representative of the indigenous native, and not a single member.

“We’ve seen a lot of districts and go ‘shop’ for approval from indigenous nations and that is not the intent of these regulations,” he said. “The intent is that if there is a pre-existing relationship, then at the Nation’s discretion, (the mascot) could continue.”

Frank added that schools that show a “good-faith effort” but are under “extenuating circumstances” can request an extension from Commissioner Betty Rosa. They may also request building aid with the state facilities office for projects that cost over $10,000. If approved, the rate of reimbursement will vary from district to district.

“This is about the human and civil rights of indigenous peoples,” Frank said. “We went and spoke to indigenous students…Hearing the pain and the shame that these students have when they’re playing against the ‘Indians’ or the ‘Warriors’ with an antiquated and, quite frankly, inaccurate depiction of Native Americans that live in New York, even in the past or the present — they felt like they weren’t part of our larger society, that they weren’t able to reach their full potential.”


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21 Apr 2023, 9:01 pm

Tim_Tex wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
This seems reasonable. It doesn't make it impossible for an entity to use the imagery in a respectful manner with permission, but it'd be nice to see disrespectful uses vanish.


How do they determine whether an image is respectful or not?


Getting permission seems to be their criteria.


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05 May 2023, 4:41 pm

funeralxempire wrote:
Tim_Tex wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
This seems reasonable. It doesn't make it impossible for an entity to use the imagery in a respectful manner with permission, but it'd be nice to see disrespectful uses vanish.


How do they determine whether an image is respectful or not?


Getting permission seems to be their criteria.

Which in and of itself can be problematic. Sentiment can change over time, and the people who do sign off on it may or may not have the popular support to do so.

There's also some first amendment issues in terms of a state barring the use of these images rather than the tribes using trademark or copyrights to effect the same thing. In some cases, IIRC, like with the Seahawks logo, it was created by a non-native artist, inspired by work from a different part of the country.I'm not even sure how you'd go about getting permission for that sort of thing in cases if the art isn't easily and clearly tied to a specific tribe.

I can't particularly say that I disagree with teams no longer using such mascots and names, but this seems like the wrong way of going about it as these cases apparently require a significant expansion of IP laws to cover which could have many other consequences that are a bigger deal.



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05 May 2023, 11:18 pm

MatchboxVagabond wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
Tim_Tex wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
This seems reasonable. It doesn't make it impossible for an entity to use the imagery in a respectful manner with permission, but it'd be nice to see disrespectful uses vanish.


How do they determine whether an image is respectful or not?


Getting permission seems to be their criteria.

Which in and of itself can be problematic. Sentiment can change over time, and the people who do sign off on it may or may not have the popular support to do so.

There's also some first amendment issues in terms of a state barring the use of these images rather than the tribes using trademark or copyrights to effect the same thing. In some cases, IIRC, like with the Seahawks logo, it was created by a non-native artist, inspired by work from a different part of the country.I'm not even sure how you'd go about getting permission for that sort of thing in cases if the art isn't easily and clearly tied to a specific tribe.

I can't particularly say that I disagree with teams no longer using such mascots and names, but this seems like the wrong way of going about it as these cases apparently require a significant expansion of IP laws to cover which could have many other consequences that are a bigger deal.


A public school is a local government entity. In New York, local government powers are not automatic, they are granted by the state. If the schools defy the ban they will lose state aid. Prioritizing by giving and taking away money is what governments do. While I don't think they have a 1st amendment case, I am not a lawyer. Some of the districts are consulting lawyers so we will see.

I do think the state is wrong by banning everything that ever had past Indian referencing. Under this order, a school district is not allowed to rebrand "warriors" to mean soldiers.


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11 May 2023, 11:41 am

Shinnecock Nation open to Wyandanch keeping Warriors name, but state says it's too late for exemptions
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The Shinnecock Indian Nation said Wednesday that it is open to allowing the Wyandanch School District to keep its Warriors team name if it removes its Native American imagery, but officials at the state Education Department said it’s too late for the district to procure an exemption.

The state Board of Regents unanimously passed a ban on the use of Native American mascots, team names and imagery at public schools on April 18 — the only exception being if the district received an exemption from a representative of a federal or state-recognized tribe. Department officials, though, said that the deadline for that exemption was May 3 — the day the rule was codified.

“It is too late,” officials said in an email. “Pursuant to the regulation, where an existing relationship between the district and the Nation existed, such agreements had to be in place by the effective date of the regulation . . . As such, by the end of this academic year, Wyandanch’s board would need to pass a resolution with a plan to change their team name, mascot, and/or imagery that would be completed no later than the end of the 2024-2025 school year.”

The state said that districts that do not comply risk losing state aid and that officials at those schools could be removed from their position

Bryan Polite, chairman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, said Wyandanch was the only district to reach out to him after the state enacted its ban, and he personally does not see an issue with retaining the nickname as long as all indigenous references are removed.

Polite said he has been in continuous conversation with the school, the tribe’s seven-person council, and the Shinnecock community to get their input on an exemption.

“This is kind of a no-brainer” for him, Polite said Wednesday before the state said it was too late. “Unless there’s Native American imagery that goes along with it, the name Warrior isn’t exclusive to native culture . . . There are many cultures who have warriors, and I don’t have an issue with them using [it] as long as there’s no Native American imagery that goes along with that.”

Only official representatives of federal or state-recognized Long Island tribes are able to offer exemptions, and on Long Island, that's only the Shinnecock or the Unkechaug of Mastic.

Unkechaug chief Harry Wallace said Wednesday he believed it "unlikely the logo and name would survive scrutiny [by the state]."

Polite noted that Wyandanch, like many other Long Island towns, is named after an Algonquin word — something that keeps the language alive. “If it’s something that’s not a depiction, or a Hollywood depiction of Native American imagery or logo, I don’t have an issue with it,” he said.

"We appreciate the opportunity and positive discussions we have had with representatives of the federally recognized Shinnecock Indian Nation," Wyandanch schools superintendent Gina Talbert said in a statement. "We have been in conversations with the Shinnecock Indian Nation since December 2022, again in March 2023 and most recently last week. We shared with them the pride and significance of what being a Warrior means to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. The district does not have a mascot and looks forward to creating school imagery that is non-discriminatory to Native Americans or any other indigenous or ethnic groups.

"We anticipate continued discussions with the Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Chairman and representatives, as well as New York State Education Department regarding the next step

Unkechaug chief Harry Wallace said Wednesday he believed it "unlikely the logo and name would survive scrutiny [by the state]."

Polite noted that Wyandanch, like many other Long Island towns, is named after an Algonquin word — something that keeps the language alive. “If it’s something that’s not a depiction, or a Hollywood depiction of Native American imagery or logo, I don’t have an issue with it,” he said.

"We appreciate the opportunity and positive discussions we have had with representatives of the federally recognized Shinnecock Indian Nation," Wyandanch schools superintendent Gina Talbert said in a statement. "We have been in conversations with the Shinnecock Indian Nation since December 2022, again in March 2023 and most recently last week. We shared with them the pride and significance of what being a Warrior means to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. The district does not have a mascot and looks forward to creating school imagery that is non-discriminatory to Native Americans or any other indigenous or ethnic groups.

"We anticipate continued discussions with the Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Chairman and representatives, as well as New York State Education Department regarding the next steps".

It is not about missing the date for the State Board of Regents, that is just a fake reason. It is about virtue signaling that they are wokeer than thou.


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11 May 2023, 2:01 pm

MatchboxVagabond wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
Tim_Tex wrote:
funeralxempire wrote:
This seems reasonable. It doesn't make it impossible for an entity to use the imagery in a respectful manner with permission, but it'd be nice to see disrespectful uses vanish.


How do they determine whether an image is respectful or not?


Getting permission seems to be their criteria.

Which in and of itself can be problematic. Sentiment can change over time, and the people who do sign off on it may or may not have the popular support to do so.

There's also some first amendment issues in terms of a state barring the use of these images rather than the tribes using trademark or copyrights to effect the same thing. In some cases, IIRC, like with the Seahawks logo, it was created by a non-native artist, inspired by work from a different part of the country.I'm not even sure how you'd go about getting permission for that sort of thing in cases if the art isn't easily and clearly tied to a specific tribe.
l.


The Seattle Seahawk logo is designed to look like the style of art of the same exact part of the country that the city is located in. Tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast region stretching from northern california to the tongue of Alaska (totem poles are the best known of their artwork) had a distinctive graphic style in the depictions of animals.

Thats the point. It was "local color". As well as being a cool design (Picasso was influenced by same indigenious American style). The team was named after an animal (osprey/fishhawk/seahawk). Not a native tribe, or after the whole race. Its not like the Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, or some name like "Apaches". Though the animal is depicted in local Native American style. So I dont see how the Seahawks trademark could possibly relate to this question.