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Oneida Nation CEO Featured In Op-Ed Piece Calling For End To Native American Mascots

Cooperstown Central School District

The Deerslayers, Hawkeyes or Pathfinders. Each has the potential to become the new nickname for the Cooperstown Central School District.

The names refer to a few of James Fenimore Cooper’s famous works, but also provide a needed change from the “Redskins,” the school’s 90 year old nickname.

In a recent New York Daily News op-ed piece, Oneida Nation CEO Ray Halbritter thanked the students for making the decision, and said the Nation is offering to pay for the school’s new sports jerseys. According to Cooperstown Superintendent, C.J. Hebert, new jerseys come at a cost of $5,000 to $10,000.

Halbritter also wrote that although others schools can learn from Cooperstown, major sports teams still use images and names to disrespect Native Americans. Among the most easily recognizable teams include the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins.

In a letter written to the Cooperstown School District, Halbritter noted that the students’ actions, “take an additional significance, as well, due to the proximity of your school to the institutional grounds of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame where players from athletic teams named “Braves” and “Indians” are regularly celebrated.”

Halbritter’s op-ed piece also says the Oneida Nation is working with other nations throughout the country to start a fund to help schools offset the cost of changing their nicknames. There are less than 1,000 schools left that use insensitive nicknames and mascots, but the number has fallen by more than 2,000 since 1970.

That year, the University of Oklahoma became the first university to eliminate its derogatory Native American mascot, “Little Red.” Other universities, including Syracuse’s “Saltine Warrior” were also taken off the field, eventually leading to the introduction and wide-spread usage of Otto the Orange.

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