Lyme Central School to Change ‘Indian’ Mascot and Seek Community Ideas | Education

LYME — Lyme Central School is taking steps to change the district’s mascot, a native wearing a war bonnet.

In October, Lyme Central School’s mascot was a topic of conversation among district leaders after the National Congress of American Indians, which represents Indigenous peoples, spoke with Superintendent Cammy J. Morrison, pointing out how harmful mascots like Lyme’s are to Natives. A petition on changing Lyme’s mascot has gained traction locally.

“Schools that use Native American culture in their team names and logos use cultural icons and stereotypes from a living culture – often a neighboring community – as props for their K-12 sports teams,” the petition states. “This practice puts these cultures on an equal footing with animal mascots, which humiliates Native Americans.”

After being approached by the NCAI, Ms Morrison said in October that she was ready to discuss changing the district’s mascot with the community. She sent a memo a few weeks ago announcing that the district will be taking steps to change its mascot, logo and nickname “Indians.”

In August, New York State issued a reprieve against the Cambridge Central School District for reversing the board’s decision to retire a Native American mascot and logo. On November 29, state education commissioner Betty A. Rosa issued a final ruling and told the district to “end the use of Native American mascots as soon as possible.” She also said that if the Native American mascot and logo were not removed, the Cambridge Central School District would face consequences, which could include the loss of state aid.

Ms Morrison said that if the commissioner’s directive was “compelling enough reason to force a mascot change”, she suggested the district should change Lyme’s mascot anyway. She said in her memo that it is not the mascot that defines a school community, but the people and values ​​it conveys.

“It is not in the interest of the district to wait for the commissioner to specifically order Lyme Central to comply,” she said. “I believe that resisting this change will be a failure to seize the opportunity before us as a school and a community, and that there is an opportunity to bring about positive change for students and our community. As such, the district will explore all of its options in an effort to successfully maneuver what is undeniably a sensitive and multifaceted subject: changing our school mascot.

A few years ago, the district changed its name and displayed its mascot on the gymnasium floor, on windows, entrance mats, scoreboards and display boards. It was noted in the memo that this was before the District received the commissioner’s decision and before Ms Morrison had fully considered or understood Indigenous peoples’ views.

“While we have only ever operated with the mindset that we are proud of the Indians name and therefore ‘justified’ to use an Indian-like mascot, our friends at NCAI respectfully state that their point of view differs enormously”, Ms Morrison mentioned.

The district plans to engage the community and all interested stakeholders throughout the process of changing its mascot and is seeking input from creative students and community members for logos, signs and mascot ideas in the hope that a local contest will help identify a new symbol. of Lyme Central School pride. The district plans to schedule small in-person, socially distanced meetings soon.

“Thank you in advance for your patience and consideration,” Ms. Morrison said as she ended her memo, “and for keeping minds and hearts open as we strive to do the right thing. better for our students and our community, and to be examples of which all our students can be proud.

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James C. Tibbs