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Cambridge School District Keeping “Indians” Nickname But Not Mascot

twitter @CCS_Indians

The ongoing effort to change one Washington County school mascot and moniker, the Indians, may be closer to resolution.

Several professional sports teams have already banished their old images and associations depicting Native Americans as part of the national racial reckoning. The Cambridge School District has been debating whether to drop its Indian logo and mascot for many months.

The School Board met last week, and during a lengthy session, a motion was made that may determine the Indians' future.

Two alumni have opposing views on the mascot change: Dillon Honyoust, with Native American heritage, graduated from CCS in 2007 and today is a school board member. He says the panel did not vote to retire the name or the logo, but did agree that a committee should be established to evaluate and discuss mascot and logo imagery with American Indian and student participation.

"By keeping the Cambridge Indians name, the new logo would be centered around American Indian imagery, awareness, no culture. So it would be up to the committee to kind of steer the ship in regards to how we move forward on the imagery aspects. And they would consult with a board who would ultimately decide, you know, to instill their recommendations, their ideas."

John Kane is a Native American activist now based in western New York who attended CCS from the third grade until he graduated from high school in 1978.

"How is it appropriate that a village or town of predominantly white people, Cambridge is like 94, 95% white. How is it appropriate for a town to adopt a people who are the victims of genocide by white people? They were murdered, we were scalped, we were, we were enslaved, we were driven off the land. Why is it even appropriate that a white community would adopt native people as their mascot? "

Honyoust expects there could be a move forward toward final resolution during another virtual board meeting open to public view and participation, as early as this week.

"The community can tune and the public can tune in, and have this be the official final, you know, resolution for people to tune in and hear us agree on."

Honyoust adds whatever happens, will happen over time.

"I'll reiterate, this is a process. So the resolution essentially is a process or reviewing process of the current logo. And it's going to be reviewed by a committee that is essentially developed from, I would assume, the Board of Education and the Superintendent all weighing in, establish this specific committee moving forward. The committee will then review the current logo, and decide whether it's proper to keep it or proper to adjust it, or proper to retire it, and create a new logo."

School Superintendent Doug Silvernell did not return calls for comment.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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