A Hudson Valley school district will become the latest to retire its “Indians” nickname.
The Nyack School Board unanimously voted to drop its nickname during a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 12. The decision came weeks after alumni and the community expressed concern regarding the mascot.
The move comes after other Hudson Valley School Districts, and the Washington Football Team in the NFL reverted away from similar nicknames.
“The use of Native American symbols is a function of (systemic racism),” Nyack School Board President Michael Mark stated. “I think what it's going to do is help heighten the awareness that we all need to have so that there can be an equal footing for everybody in our community.”
It is unclear what the Indian’s successor could be. The discussion is ongoing and is expected to be a hot topic when the board next meets virtually on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Nyack Schools board member Beth Davidson quoted 1998 Nyack graduate Allen Jimerson in a lengthy post on Facebook.
“It doesn’t change the past to change this mascot,” he said during a July Board of Education meeting.”It changes the future for the people of Nyack and the indigenous people of this country.”
“This is Nyack,” Davidson stated. “We are strong, and while I have always been proud over the last 15 years to be part of this community and more recently to be part of this Board of Education, I am prouder than I have ever been tonight.
“I’m proud that at a time when so much seems frightening, uncertain, painful, divisive and unjust, this community is stepping up and leaning in to make sure that long arc of our moral universe bends toward justice—in this case, not next year, next month or tomorrow, but today.“
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.
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