Native American Tribe Will Decide If School Can Use ‘Warriors’ Nickname

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Is the name “Warriors” offensive to Native Americans? That will be up to them to decide.

A New York school board has authorized the Seneca Nation to make the final call on whether Salamanca High School can keep the Warrior name and image as its mascot.

Earlier this month, the Albany Board of Regents voted to phase out Native American-related nicknames, including Chiefs, Redmen, Braves and ā€” yes ā€” Warriors.

Native American Tribe Will Decide If School Can Use 'Warriors' Nickname
(Credit: AP)

But Salamanca is a special case.

The school sits on the only United States city built on land leased from a Native American reservation. Further, 38 percent of students in the Salamanca public school system are Native American, mostly from the Seneca tribe.

The current logo is a profile image of a Native American with a long braid and a feather headband. It was designed by a Seneca artist in the 1970s. And school officials say the mascot is a source of pride.

Native American Tribe Will Decide If School Can Use 'Warriors' Nickname
(Credit: AP)

When the Board voted to prohibit public schools’ use of indigenous names, it included an exception for districts that receive written approval from a federally recognized tribal nation.

This would be one of those exceptions.

But school superintendent Mark Beehler said he thinks it’s unfair to put the tribe in the middle of this.

“Iā€™m really not comfortable going to the Seneca Nation and having them potentially be the bad guy here,” Beehler said.

Still, the school board authorized seeking approval from the tribe to keep the logo and Warrior nickname.

Seneca President Rickey Armstrong Sr. endorsed the new state ban at its proposal in November. But he also acknowledged the Salamanca school system’s “unique relationship” with the 8,000-member nation.

“We believe the state’s provision for agreements between school districts and Native nations should be rare and limited, rather than an open invitation for districts to go ‘approval shopping’ among Native nations,” Armstrong said.

Native American Tribe Will Decide If School Can Use 'Warriors' Nickname
(Credit: AP)

And many other members of Seneca Nation have rallied around the logo. That includes Michala Redeye, who also coordinates Native American programming at the schools.

“I feel like a lot of the comments and stuff that has been put out there about the logo reminds people of why they’re in the community, what they love about the community,” Redeye said. “They’re tied to being a Salamanca Warrior.”

The tribe has not yet issued its decision.

According to the National Congress of American Indians, Salamanca is just one of 966 school districts that have indigenous-themed nicknames.

At least 20 states have taken or are considering moves to ban these mascots.

Written by Amber Harding

Amber is a Midwestern transplant living in Murfreesboro, TN. She spends most of her time taking pictures of her dog, explaining why real-life situations are exactly like "this one time on South Park," and being disappointed by the Tennessee Volunteers.

2 Comments

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  1. Don’t change a thing. I bet the tribe overwhelmingly votes to keep the name/mascot. And if you asked other tribes in the state they’d probably say the same thing about the other schools planning to change their names/mascots. People really need to get lives.

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