Community weighs in on Lancaster’s use of “Redskins”

LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – What’s in a name? It depends who you ask when it comes to the term “Redskins.”

In June, the Washington Redskins, an NFL team, had their trademark canceled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, calling “Redskins” disparaging to Native Americans.

The same team mascot is used in Lancaster schools, and opinion is split on whether the name should be changed. The community was given the opportunity Tuesday night to weigh in on the issue.

“We have a 67-year tradition that we’re not ready to give up. There’s really no reason to and nothing has ever been offensive,” said Brenda Christopher, who is one of over 2,000 people in support of Lancaster keeping the team name.

High school senior Alex Webster feels it dehumanizes a whole class of people. He is 25 percent Native American and considers the term “Redskin” derogatory.

“You treat us as a novelty instead of a people. We’re a thing of the past to you.”

Lancaster Schools Superintendent Michael Vallely says last year the district received dozens of letters urging the district to drop the name. As a result, the newest Lancaster athletic uniforms were ordered without the Redskins name on them, just in case the district is forced to change its mascot.

“It’s politically correct to be politically correct, but this is Lancaster. This is our school district, okay? This is a community issue,” said former school board member Joe Maciejewski.

The school district has been reviewing the issue for more than than a year but still hasn’t decided whether or not to change the team name. Lancaster School Board President Kenneth Garber says this is not a pressing matter.

“There’s nobody in Albany or Washington forcing us to do anything. Nobody’s requiring us to make a decision. It’s something of importance in the community and we feel we’ll take as long as necessary.”

The district said it will continue to study this issue throughout the school year and will hold a public forum before any final decision is made.

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