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February 28, 2013

In New York, other Redskins keeping nickname

Cooperstown Central School is not the only district in the state using the nickname Redskins.

In January 2002, the Crier reported CCS was the only district left in the state still employing Redskins as its mascot, according to a list compiled by the state Education Department. However, there are at least three other schools in New York with the nickname Redskins. Oriskany Central School, Lancaster Central School and Canisteo-Greenwood Central School all use the nickname.

According to officials at each school, none of the three is planning to change its names.

In Oriskany, 50 miles northwest of Cooperstown, Superintendent of Schools Gregory Kelahan said he does not think a name change would be popular in his community.

“I can tell you that there is absolutely no movement afoot to change the nickname,” Kelahan said. “We view it as a traditional moniker, rather than a culturally offensive reference.”

“I will tell you that Oriskany is a very proud town and a very tradition oriented community,” he continued. “We have a long tradition here of valuing everybody in our community.”

Kelahan said the people in the town have been talking about the potential name change in Cooperstown. A high school class wrote essays about the issues.

“I have those essays on my desk now,” he said. “I have been reading them, and I am very pleased with the thoughtfulness of our students. It was a very enterprising assignment from our social studies teacher.”

Kelahan, who has been the superintendent at OCS for four years, said he understands that some people are offended by the nickname.

“We do not consider the name to be derogatory,” he said. “We feel like the word lost that meaning over the years, and to us, it represents our heritage. It is a historical representation of the Battle of Oriskany.”

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