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Cambridge School Board Reverses Itself On Indians Moniker Again

By a 3 to 2 vote, the Cambridge Central School District has decided to keep its “Indians” nickname.
By a 3 to 2 vote, the Cambridge Central School District has decided to keep its “Indians” nickname.";s:

The Cambridge Central School District board of education has reversed its decision to retire its "Indians" name and logo.

By a 3 to 2 vote, the Cambridge Central School District has decided to keep its “Indians” nickname. The school board in Washington County, New York voted in a hybrid virtual/in-person meeting Thursday night to rescind a June 17th resolution dropping its mascot and logo — a stereotypical image of a Native American man’s profile.

The district has endured months of debate over whether the “Indians” mascot is too offensive to keep.

Board member Dillon Honyoust, a 2007 CCS graduate with Native American heritage, introduced the new resolution keeping the “Indians” associations, similar to one discussed by the board on June 10th: the “Indians” moniker will stay while a committee will be formed to review the logo.

“As a lifelong community member of Cambridge, I can say without a doubt that this has been the most unsettled our community has ever been during my entire lifetime. We've experienced a global pandemic that completely disrupted and altered our way of life for the foreseeable future. In the midst of these trying times, our school leaders have enabled a debate to completely take over the culture of our school. Faculty and students were stripped of what little stability they had left. Valuable time and resources sucked away from our children and pumped into a debate that easily could have been tabled. Activists and media from afar, casting bad light over our school and community while pushing a one sided narrative, even resorting to name calling and personal attacks on members of our community. “

Superintendent Doug Silvernell:

"All right, so there was a call for the your motion. It was seconded. A call for discussion. There was no discussion. And then the president [Jessica] Ziehm called for the vote your resolution. So are you a yes or no on your resolution?"

Honyoust: "Yes on my resolution."

Silvernell: "So by my count, that's three two to rescind; the motion passes."

Honyoust called for reestablishing trust within the Cambridge school and community.

“This will require a complete transparency. Although it is impossible to meet the needs and concerns of every member of the community and school, our goals will be developed through acknowledging all voices. At this moment, concerning all the voices on the matter, I believe that is in the best interest of our students, faculty and community to be provided a process to move forward in a positive and progressive way together, not divided. “

John Kane is a Native American activist who attended Cambridge Central School from the third grade until he graduated from high school in 1978. For months he’s been arguing that the school is mocking native people.

“I mean, it's impossible to believe that these people, some of whom are now on the school board, and certainly some who spoke at the at the board meeting… It's impossible that they could be that ignorant. What I saw on display off was white privilege that is wrestling with white fragility. The whole idea that the ‘outsiders,’ I mean, you know people like me or frankly any native people who live on native land, that we ‘outsiders’ are trying to take something away from these poor white people. This is white privilege battling with their white fragility. And that's what was on display in Cambridge at the board meeting .”

Kane says the issue is far from over.

“I'll be back to Cambridge and I'll you know, I'll continue to fight this thing until it's finally put to rest. And like I said, this only ends one way. It ends with Cambridge Central School no longer mocking native people with their ‘Indian’ name and their ‘Indian mascot.’ It only ends one way.”

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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