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New York issues guidelines for removing Native American mascots, names and logos

Some Long Island districts voice their opposition to the New York's Indigenous mascot ban.
Rick Bowmer
Some Long Island districts voice their opposition to the New York's Indigenous mascot ban.

New York Public Schools now have a set of guidelines to help implement the removal of Native American mascots, team names and logos.

The state Education Department released a document Thursday that details steps for the removal of Indigenous names, mascots and logos. Since a ban was passed, community members have expressed concern and confusion about how it should be implemented.

There were many questions regarding which names or imagery would need to be removed and the potential repercussions if it was not enforced. The 11-page document details the ban and provides a timeline of when each action needs to be taken. It also provides links to resources and answers to frequently asked questions by the community.

A common question asked was regarding which names would be banned. The regulations clarify that schools with a generic name such as “warriors” that have never used Indigenous imagery connected to the name will not be required to change. But schools that currently use team names associated with Indigenous imagery or symbols must change their team's name.

After the ban was announced, several school districts stated that a portion of district residents are opposed to the change. The guidelines state that any individual aggrieved by the action or inaction of a school district may submit an appeal to the commissioner. Ultimately, the Board of Education in each district will decide if the team names, logos or mascots are prohibited by the regulation.

“Although rebranding might not be easy for communities, the harm that the continued use of team names, mascots or logos connected to Indigenous peoples has on Indigenous and non- Indigenous peoples, including students, is well established,” the department stated.

The regulation also states that school district employees are prohibited from displaying paraphernalia or clothing “associated with their own school district’s retired Indigenous team name, logo or mascot.”

Districts can request assistance or ask questions by emailing the Office of Indigenous Education at NYSED. State aid is available for expenses associated with eliminating prohibited team names, mascots and logos.

Schools have until June 2025 to make necessary changes. Extensions to the deadline will be considered only after “significant progress” to removal has been made, approximately 75%.

Jeniece Roman is a reporter with WSHU, who is interested in writing about Indigenous communities in southern New England and Long Island, New York.