ONEIDA, NY – Representative Ray Halbritter, on behalf of the Oneida Indian Nation, released a statement in support of the New York State Department of Education’s notice to school districts throughout the State of New York, calling for the removal of all Native American mascots.
“The Oneida Indian Nation believes that the institutions that teach our children need to be places of safety and tolerance. Schools should be going out of their way to make children of all ethnicities and heritages feel comfortable – that is what the New York State Education Department is attempting to do with their notice to schools to remove Native American mascots. At its core, this issue is really about how this state views its responsibilities to an increasingly diverse population. For too long, we have permitted old traditions to persist – the kind that suggest, in some circumstances, that it is acceptable to use dictionary defined slurs as mascots, like was the case with the Washington NFL team before they changed their names.
Native American organizations, civil rights groups and public health organizations have made clear the damage that the mascotization of Native people has on our youth. Promoting inclusivity and mutual respect is the best way to unify our communities moving forward.”
The Oneida Indian Nation founded the Change the Mascot Campaign in 2013, which successfully advocated for the change of the Washington NFL team’s derogatory name.