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News Release

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council (SRMT) has lent support to New York Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D. WF. - 34 Senate District) in her efforts to stop public schools from using Native mascots, names, or logos. Their support was shared during a virtual meeting with NYS Senator Biaggi on Onerahtohkó:wa/May 17, 2022 that sought the tribe’s feedback on amendments made to Bill S1549C (A5443C), which was introduced into the State Legislature.

“For years, we have been helping raise awareness on the derogatory and harmful manner in which Native mascots are often used by public schools and other entities across the state and country. From Massena, New York to Mason City, Iowa; we have been echoing the sentiment of tribal nations that they are offensive and represent a form of institutional racism — particularly by educational institutions and systems that should strive to be supportive environments for inclusiveness and diversity,” stated the Tribal Council.

According to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), there are presently 113 schools and 55 school districts across New York State that continue to use a Native American-related mascot -- despite calls from the NCAI and the American Psychological Association for their discontinuation. In Northern New York; some school districts have agreed and phased out their usage of a Native mascot; including Massena, Saranac, and Peru.

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Previous versions of the legislation was introduced into both chambers of the State Legislature in 2021, but were not brought to the floor for a vote. Since that time, the bill’s primary sponsor State Senator Biaggi has been working with the NCAI, NYS State Education Department, Seneca Nation of Indians, and SRMT to enhance the bill’s language to ensure that no public funding can be used to support school activities that use a Native name, logo, or mascot; except those receiving a tribal nation’s consent to use their particular tribal name.

The active version of both bills; S1549E and A5443E sponsored by Assemblymember Rodeneyes Bichotte Hermelyn (D. - Assembly District 42); include the amended language and have a strong likelihood of being passed. When signed by the Governor, schools that currently use uniforms and other materials containing a Native name, logo, or mascot will have until September 1, 2024 to discontinue their usage, as they move forward with seeking a replacement.

“We want to say ‘Niawen:kowa/Thank you very much’ to Senator Biagi and Assemblymember Hermelyn for your efforts to help eradicate the often negative portrayal of Native peoples in public schools across the State. The time has surely come for tribal nations to be treated as equals and not as caricatures or just part of this country’s history,” added the Tribal Council.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.

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