Marilla to reject NYSED Native American name and mascot memo

Marilla, New York, intends to fight a state education department edict that mandates the renaming or rebranding of any school with a Native American name, logo, or mascot.

On Thursday night, the resolution was scheduled to be voted on, but the local school system begged the community to wait.

The Iroquois Central School District is made up of the towns of Elma, Marilla, and Wales.

A new law from the State Department of Education has school administrators debating whether or not to change the district’s moniker, mascot, and logo.

The state of New York has made it a priority to change the mascot names of a select number of schools in Western New York, including Iroquois, which is known by its nickname, Chiefs.

The goal is to show the Iroquois School Board that the locals are willing to fight alongside them against New York State.

With the help of the Seneca Nation, we hope to make progress on a constructive path.

“We’d like to get down with them and let them know that the communities genuinely respect their legacy and want to work with them,” Earl Gingerich Jr., a supervisor for the town of Marilla, said.

The New York State Department of Education announced in a November memo that all schools in the state must remove all Native American and Indigenous mascots by the end of the 2022-2023 school year or face consequences.

As of a June court ruling, it was outlawed. Schools that refuse to change their Native American mascot, emblem, or name will have their school officers removed and could lose state funding.

It has been said by Gingerich that he is interested in hearing from the Seneca people.

The goal is to show the Iroquois School Board that the locals are united in their opposition to the state of New York.

They are cooperating productively with the Seneca Nation to advance. Gingerich expressed optimism that a meeting with the tribes will help them understand that locals value their history and are eager to collaborate with them.

The following is a statement provided to News 4 by Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr.

Our Nation remains willing to participate in further discussions so that school districts and their communities can come together to support team names and imagery that reflects and respects the character and value of all residents and students.

On Wednesday, Iroquois Schools had its board of education meeting, where district executives say they plan to listen to concerns from Native Nations and wait for additional information from the state before making any changes.

“We have to listen and learn. We need to educate ourselves more.

We have to be more aware of what the state is looking for, and the process of what they’re looking for has to be accomplished,” Douglas Scofield, Superintendent of Iroquois Central Schools, said.

If schools do not comply before the end of the school year, they will be in breach of the Dignity Act.

As a result, they would be risking the dismissal of school officers, including the district superintendent, or withholding of state assistance. In June of 2024, we will be changing the names, mascots, and logos.

Given the severity of the consequences, Iroquois Schools has stated that it will be adhering to the relevant New York State regulations.

The school system anticipates further clarification on the memorandum maybe early in the new year.

Furthermore, it intends to discuss the term and logo with the Seneca Nation and other relevant parties.

Many board members complained that the New York State Education Department’s memo lacked essential information, such as who would be responsible for footing the bill for the proposed modifications.

Districts claim that if the moniker, mascot, or logo is changed, they will have to replace a lot of expensive stuff, including uniforms, athletic fields, walls, and signage.

Schools using Native American team names, logos, and iconography without current clearance from a recognized tribe are in violation of a new policy, according to a statement from the New York State Education Department compliance.”

Locals expressed their displeasure with plans to alter the school’s name and mascot during a recent meeting of the Iroquois School Board. They also feel the name honors Native Nations.

The 2015 rebranding of the Lancaster School District from the Redskins to the Legends polarised the community. The new name and logo, both created by students, were put to the vote.

Eventually, the school will likely publish more detailed instructions for changing out school uniforms and other visual fixtures.


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