Native American tribes now have the right to approve school names, mascots and logos referring to their culture under a recent ruling by the New York State Department of Education.
This change is long overdue.
More than two decades ago, Richard Mills, the state’s chief education officer, called upon school districts to end the use of Native American images and mascots as “soon as practical.” He added, “The use of Native American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all students.”
The Department of Education’s November 17th ruling states that schools that do not obtain approval from a recognized tribe must drop Native American names and branding by June 2023. Anything less is an insult not only to Native Americans but to all cultures that make up the rich tapestry that is America.
The Columbus Heritage Coalition supports Native American culture and heritage. Unfortunately, Italian Americans know only too well the hurt of stereotyping one’s ethnicity and culture. We join with members of the Native American community who seek to establish Native American Day in New York State on the same day as nationally recognized Native American Day, which is observed every year on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day.
We must support Native Americans and give them our total respect to have a day in New York designated solely to celebrate their rich heritage and culture.
To do less as Americans is unacceptable and un-American.
Happy Thanksgiving. And Happy Native American Day.