The Citizen Editorial Committee
The New York State Education Commissioner is considering an appeal from residents of a school district in upstate New York. It’s a case that about 70 school districts, including one in Cayuga County, are expected to monitor.
The appeal involves a decision by the Cambridge Central School District Education Council in Washington County to withdraw its Indian nickname and mascot, and a subsequent reversal of that decision when the board’s composition changed. A group of residents appealed to the state’s education commissioner, who issued a stay ordering the district to stop using the nickname and mascot pending his final decision, which could take several months.
The stay certainly brings the issue of Native American nicknames and mascots back to the fore in New York’s public school districts, and depending on the commissioner’s decision, this could signal a major shift in the state’s mostly casual approach to a problem that has caused controversy around the nation.
The only school district in Cayuga County that continues to use a Native American mascot and imagery is the Weedsport Central School District. The district has considered whether it should change its name or its Warriors logo in the past, but did not do so based on feedback from the community.
At some point, however, the district may be forced to take such action, so this would be a good time to start another community conversation on this issue. They would be wise to invite the leaders of the Native American nations in the region – such as the Cayuga, Onondaga and Oneida nations – on what the Warriors’ nickname and logo mean to them.