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New School District In Hudson Valley Eyes Dropping Indians Nickname

Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls.
Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls. Photo Credit: File photo

Another Hudson Valley school is weighing whether or not to change its mascot away from one with Native American representation amid civil unrest across the country.

In the wake of the Washington Redskins removing its mascot and John Jay High School, located in Lewisboro in Northern Westchester, transitioning from the Indians to Wolves, Roy C. Ketcham High School in Wappingers Falls could soon also see a nickname change.

School officials said they are open to changing the mascot and retiring the Indian after discussing it with the community and alumni during a meeting on Monday, July 20 held remotely.

It is unclear what the Indian’s successor could be. The discussion is ongoing and is expected to include input from nearly Native American communities in the coming weeks and months.

In response to the potential change, multiple change.org petitions were started by alumnae encouraging the district to retire the Indian mascot.

“In 1962 when Roy C. Ketcham High School was established and decided on the ‘INDIANS’ mascot, the offensive and detrimental nature of Native American imagery in sports as harmful to Native communities were largely ignored,” the organizer wrote.

“In 1968, the Nation Congress of American Indians began their ongoing campaign to end the era of harmful ‘Indian’ mascots.

They continued: “In their words, ‘rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.’” Nationwide, school districts, organizations, and even professional sports teams have felt pressure to alter mascots or team names that represent Native Americans, leading to a national debate.

According to the National Congress of American Indians, “the intolerance and harm promoted by these ‘Indian’ sports mascots, logos, or symbols, have very real consequences for Native people. 

“Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”

Since 1963, no professional teams have established new mascots that use racial stereotypes in their names and imagery.  In 2005, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) established an extensive policy to remove “Indian” mascots. 

As a result, two-thirds, or more than 2,000 “Indian” references in sports have been eliminated in the past four decades, though nearly 1,000 still remain.

This is a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for updates.

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