Official Statement on NY Board of Regents Mascot Ban
April 19, 2023
As the director of the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Resources Department and a cultural educator for more than 45 years, I support the removal of names, logos, images and mascots that imply references to indigenous, (first nations, Native Americans, American Indians, tribal names). It is highly insulting for humans of any race or creed, their cultural, spiritual, or religious items or traditional ways to be used for mascots, logos, sayings, etc. The use of stereotype costumes, names and cartoonish imagery dehumanize native people and our traditions. Cultural misappropriation causes harm to a people when they see their people and culture being relegated to the past, and as an object or a subject who is ridiculed. Self-esteem is negatively impacted when our traditional or ceremonial clothing becomes someone’s costume, when gestures and sounds are made in a most disrespecting way. Non-native children and adults have used mascots and the antics that come with it, in teasing or bullying of natives. This is not teaching respect for ethnicity, culture or spiritual ways.
Mascots of a people or culture is not an honoring. Indigenous people are not things to bring good luck, are not fictional characters, are not to be used to represent your town, school, sport team, organization or business.
Honor the native people of an area by acknowledging the land, waters and people of an area. Honor the native people of an area by teaching curriculum developed with native people of the area. Honor our people by returning lands taken illegally, by not developing on burial grounds, by not developing every piece of unoccupied land or polluting the lands and waters we live off of.
We are a living people with living, evolving traditions, we are not your mascots.
“With knowledge comes understanding, with understanding comes respect, with respect comes peace.”
Josephine Smith, Director
Cultural Resources Department
P.O. Box 5006
Southampton, NY 11969
631 318-4856 (o) 516 314-0354(c) firstname.lastname@example.org