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SALAMANCA, N.Y. (AP) — The profile of a Native American man, a braid trailing down and feather jutting up, is tiled right into a highschool hallway, dyed into the burden room carpet and laid into the turf of the soccer area at Salamanca metropolis colleges.

Faculty leaders say the omnipresent brand and “Warrior” title for the college athletic groups are sources of satisfaction right here, in the one U.S. metropolis constructed on land leased from a Native American reservation.

However as New York joins states shifting to ban colleges’ use of Indigenous nicknames and mascots as a result of they diminish Native cultures, the tribe might have the final say over whether or not the brand stays. When the state Board of Regents this month voted to ban public colleges’ use of Indigenous names, it included an exception for districts that obtain written approval from a federally acknowledged tribal nation in New York.

It has put the tribe in an ungainly spot.

Whereas the Seneca Indian Nation’s chief has endorsed the ban, some residents of the nation wish to maintain the brand, which was designed by a Seneca artist within the Nineteen Seventies. About 38% of scholars within the public faculty system south of Buffalo, close to the Pennsylvania line, are Native American, principally residents of the Seneca tribe.

“The brand actually represents us as a neighborhood,” stated Marijah Skye, a 17-year-old scholar and Seneca citizen.

Superintendent Mark Beehler stated he thinks it’s unfair of the Regents to place any tribal nation within the center, the place its resolution may upset college students and the neighborhood.

“I’m actually not snug going to the Seneca Nation and having them doubtlessly be the unhealthy man right here,” Beehler stated in an interview.

On Tuesday, the college board approved in search of approval from the Seneca Nation to maintain the brand and Warrior nickname. The Seneca Nation didn’t instantly problem a call.

New York is considered one of no less than 20 states which have taken or are contemplating motion to deal with Native-themed mascots utilized by public colleges, in accordance with the Nationwide Congress of American Indians, which tracks the problem.

In 2001, former New York Schooling Commissioner Richard Mills stated utilizing Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can develop into “a barrier to constructing a secure and nurturing faculty neighborhood and enhancing educational achievement for all college students.” As we speak, there are greater than 100 colleges representing over 50 New York districts that also have such mascots.

Nationwide, 966 districts have Native “themed” mascots, in accordance with NCAI’s database, with “Braves,” “Chiefs,” “Warriors” and “Indians” essentially the most broadly used. A push to put off such mascots gained momentum with a marketing campaign focusing on the title of the NFL’s Washington workforce, which in 2022 renamed itself as the Commanders.

Seneca President Rickey Armstrong Sr. endorsed New York’s ban when it was proposed in November, whereas acknowledging the Salamanca faculty system’s “distinctive relationship” with the 8,000-member nation.

“We consider the state’s provision for agreements between faculty districts and Native nations needs to be uncommon and restricted, moderately than an open invitation for districts to go ‘approval purchasing’ amongst Native nations,” Armstrong stated.

He stated the nation, which operates a resort on line casino in Salamanca and others in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, stated it might “fastidiously think about” how the usual might apply inside the neighborhood.

Oregon, Washington state and Connecticut are amongst these with related legal guidelines, forbidding colleges to make use of Native American nicknames until they’ve permission from a tribe. Final yr, the college board for Montville, Connecticut, voted to drop its “Indians” nickname after the neighboring Mohegan Tribe, proprietor of the Mohegan Solar on line casino, stated it would prefer a different name.

In Salamanca, faculty officers have been getting ready for the potential for change, soliciting neighborhood enter at boards and surveying college students. Beehler stated the bulk, however not all, of those that weighed in supported the continued use of the brand and Warriors nickname.

Salamanca resident Michala Redeye, a Seneca citizen, stated Native and non-Native residents have largely united round retaining the brand. That is notable in a metropolis that has seen divisions over points together with the property tax-exempt standing of Native residents and the town’s required lease funds to the Seneca Nation.

“I really feel like a variety of the feedback and stuff that has been put on the market concerning the brand reminds individuals of why they’re in the neighborhood, what they love concerning the neighborhood. They’re tied to being a Salamanca Warrior,” stated Redeye, who coordinates Native American programming within the colleges.

A number of college students who belong to the Seneca Nation stated the picture stirs a way of satisfaction.

“It’s broadly identified,” 14-year-old Jaxon Crouse stated, “particularly round territory as a faculty, and it’s sort of simply the neighborhood.”


The Related Press training workforce receives help from the Carnegie Company of New York. The AP is solely answerable for all content material.

By Maggi

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