The day of the “Redskins” is over in Lancaster as the controversial nickname and mascot was voted out Monday night by the school board. The vote was 7 to 0.
The unanimous vote was shouted down by Redskins supporters, many of whom wore past and present school uniforms and jackets with the Redskins logo.
In the end, the school board could not deny that the word is a slur to Native Americans.
Other schools had begun to boycott athletic events with Lancaster. The boycotts and other pressure from the community hastened the school boards decision.
The vote, put a formal end to a nearly 70-year tradition that was beloved by many in the community and also detested by Native Americans and others who viewed it as an offensive racial slur.
Local Native American activists that helped lead the push are celebrating the decision.
“Our community came together. We took a position and I think we were effective,” Hoyendahonh of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation said.
But many others believe the board and the superintendent succumbed to outside pressure and should’ve at the very least allowed the public to vote.
Some are vowing to make them pay at the voting booths.
The people of this community will respect what has happened tonight and understand right from wrong and the need to adapt to the times and change,” Board President Kenneth Graber said.
“We can take this as a positive learning experience for all of our students as it gives them a unique opportunity to create a new legacy and traditions for future generations,” board member Kimberly Nowak said.
The district is forming a committee to explore options for a new name.
The Oneida Nation and members of the National Congress of American Indians are congratulating the Lancaster board on its decision, saying, “The people entrusted to teach our children stood up for what is right. They listened to all sides of the debate and arrived at a fair decision that demonstrates tolerance and respect, and embodies the values that we as Americans hold dear.”
Joel Barkin, a spokesman for the Oneida Nation, made this statement to the AP:
“Not only did the school make a powerful statement to the Native American community that they no longer wanted to use a term that is a dictionary-defined slur against native people, but it made a statement to the kids in that school to be self-aware and have empathy and think about how the actions that you are engaging in affect other people outside of yourself.”
Numerous high schools and universities throughout the country have dropped the term Redskins in recent years and several Native American groups have begun a “Change the Mascot” campaign to press the National Football League to remove it from the Washington, D.C., franchise.