Mohonasen, Niskayuna to begin rebranding process after state mascot order

Baseball player with Warriors jersey up close

ROTTERDAM — Two months after the state Education Department made it clear that school districts must retire team names, mascots and logos associated with Indigenous cultures, the Mohonasen Central School District is set to begin the process of dropping its “Warriors” moniker.

Superintendent Shannon Shine this week announced he would present a resolution to the district’s Board of Education on June 20 that will signify plans to comply with the recent order that requires all district’s to stop using the imagery by the end of the 2024-25 academic year.

“With the end of an era upon us and the beginning of a new era before us, the board intends to fully engage with Mohonasen — with students, faculty, staff, parents, and the community at large — as we seek to rebrand, and to explore and decide upon a new team name,” Shine wrote in an update on the district’s website.

He added that much of the work to develop a new team name will take place during the 2023-24 academic year, and that additional details would be made clear in the coming months.

The announcement comes as school districts throughout the region have started the rebranding process following the state order that was first handed down last fall and formally adopted by the state’s Board of Regents in April.

The order requires boards of education to adopt a resolution by the end of the current academic year saying how they plan to comply with the state mandate, and gives schools two years to fully implement the plan.

Under the state regulations, Mohonasen will also have to drop its two logos: an “M” with a spear and feather, and a silhouette of three Native Americans that represent the three nations the district gets its name from, the Mohawk, Onondaga and Seneca. The Mohonasen name is allowed to remain under the guidelines.

The guidelines acknowledge that nicknames like warriors and raiders are not necessarily offensive on their own, but should be dropped if the names were associated with Indigenous peoples or imagery at some point.

Several school districts locally with team names and mascots inspired by Indigenous imagery have already rebranded, including Glens Falls, which dropped its “Indians” nickname in favor of the “Blacks Bears,” and Schohaire, who are now the “Storm” after the district conducted a survey and vote earlier this year to replace its “Indians” moniker.

The Corinth Central School District in northern Saratoga County recently announced it had dropped its “Tomahawks” nickname in favor of the “River Hawks.”

Elsewhere, the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District announced plans for a community survey to gain input on a new nickname to replace its “Braves” moniker after efforts to keep the name were rejected by the state earlier this year. The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Central School District has taken similar steps to move away from its “Indians” name.

The Stillwater Central School District, which uses a “Warriors” nickname, last month adopted a resolution signifying compliance with the state order. The Niskayuna school board is set to review a resolution next week, with board members expected to vote on the proposal on June 20, according to Superintendent Carl Mummenthey.

Niskayuna began phasing out Indigenous imagery years ago, but has continued to use the “Silver Warriors” moniker. Mummenthey said the district will begin reaching out to the community this summer to begin the “important work of reimagining our team names and identities.”

“All of us at Niskayuna recognize the complexity of these actions and the wide range of emotions these actions will elicit from students, alumni, and families,” he said in a statement. “At the same time, we also recognize the pain and harm that ongoing use of team names with Indigenous references can inflict on our students, our community, and the Indigenous peoples in our state and nation.”

But plans for other districts remain unclear.

The Mechanicville City School District did not return a request seeking comment on plans to discontinue its “Red Raiders” name. The Hoosic Valley Central School District also did not return a request for comment regarding plans to drop its “Indians” moniker.

It’s also unclear how the Cambridge Central School District in Washington County is planning to proceed.

The district fought to preserve its “Indians” team name after state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa ordered the district to retire the name in 2020 after the school board overturned a decision to retire the name and logo just weeks after a previous slate of board members handed down the vote. The school board sued the state but lost.

The district did not return a request seeking comment.

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.

Categories: -News-, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Rotterdam, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

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