Did Fonda-Fultonville School Get Approval to Remain the “Braves”?
Indigenous Peoples have been fighting for Americans to stop using their tribes as mascots for a long time. These mascots create intentional caricatures and perpetuate harmful stereotypes of a population that already faces discrimination on a daily basis.
This sentiment was largely ignored until 2001 when then Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills released a memo explaining how the use of these symbols and depictions as mascots can negatively impact Indigenous Peoples. Since then, the fight for equality and inclusivity has remained.
As a result, many Capital Region schools have found themselves in the hot seat, like Mohonasen, which combines three tribe names: Mohawk, Onondaga, and Seneca. While the name itself was deemed acceptable as it seemingly honors those tribes, their mascot, the "warriors" was not viewed in the same positive light.
In the same boat is upstate NY school district Fonda-Fultonville, with their mascot and team name the "braves" (James De La Fuente, news10.com).
Last week, the Fonda-Fultonville School District submitted a letter to the Board of Regents asking permission to keep their mascot name. The Board of Regents has stated that a school district has the right to keep their mascot and/or logo if it's approved by an indigenous tribe recognized by the state (James De La Fuente, news10.com).
On March 3, the district and Dr. Tom Porter (Chief Sakokwenionkwas), on behalf of the Mohawk Nation entered into an agreement that demonstrates their approval and encouragement to allow the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District to retain the name Braves. -James De La Fuente (news10.com)
However, the State of New York recognizes nine tribal nations, with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council being the elected and recognized government of the Mohawk Tribe. Therefore legally, the NYS Education Department cannot recognize Dr. Porter as a representative of the Mohawk Tribe, so his signed document did not meet the state's parameters (Ward and Begam, news10.com).
Tom Porter was at one time sitting on the bench, so to speak, but that was many decades ago... He doesn’t speak on behalf of the Mohawk Nation. I guess he can call himself chief of the small village, but that’s not what New York State will recognize. -John Kane, NYS Mascot Advisory Panel (Ward and Begam, news10.com)
The state also explained in an email that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council has made their stance very clear on how they do not agree with schools having mascots that relate to Indigenous Americans (Ward and Begam, news10.com).