CAMBRIDGE, NY (NEWS10) – This week, Cambridge Central School District welcomed the decision in the ongoing court case regarding whether or not to change the Native American school’s mascot “Indian Warrior.” The case is back in court with a new judge, to determine whether the intervention of New York State Education Commissioner Betty Rosa will be considered an abuse of authority.
Last June, the Cambridge School Board voted to retire the mascot and dub the school as “The Indians of Cambridge”, citing cultural insensitivity. Barely a month later, a school board member retired and a new one joined. The new council voted to overturn the decision. A group of parents petitioned Rosa, who upheld her appeal late last year, giving Cambridge until July 1, 2022.
In February, Cambridge School Board voted to appeal the decision. Their appeal was filed under Section 78 of the Civil Laws and Rules of Practice on March 22 in the New York State Supreme Court.
The appeal is before the court this week and could reach a decision point sooner than expected. Shortly after the filing, Acting Supreme Court Justice Denise Hartman ordered Commissioner Rosa and the four families who had petitioned her to write letters explaining why Rosa’s ruling should be upheld.
The deadline for defendants is April 22. For the Cambridge School Board, it’s April 19. The board voted 3-2 to pursue the lawsuit – the same margin by which it voted to overturn the mascot’s decision to begin with.
“While the District would have liked Judge Hartman to order the temporary restraining order, we appreciate that she set an expedited timeline for information, which could mean we get a final decision sooner rather than later,” reads an article dated April 4. on the Cambridge Central School District website. “Another judge will now be assigned to the case and will consider whether Commissioner Rosa’s directive to the district to eliminate its use of the ‘Indians’ moniker and logo should be stayed, pending a final decision on whether whether the commissioner acted arbitrarily and exceeded his authority. The District appealed because the Commission strongly believes that the Commissioner exceeded her authority. »
For now, Rosa’s decision remains in full effect, giving Cambridge a deadline of July 1, 2022 to remove the “warrior” mascot from all forms of school use. The sports team name “Indians” would also be retired. Part of Judge Hartman’s letter would have cut off the order altogether, but those lines were crossed out from the final draft.
Cambridge isn’t the only North Country school district with a mascot that can change. Last November, the Lake George Central School District opened a discussion about whether to change its own school icon, a similar Native American depicted in a headdress. This image is a clip-art of a Plains Indian, a tribe unrelated to the Adirondack region.
The city of Cambridge is located on Mohican, Abenaki and Wabanaki land, according to Native-land.ca Native American Map Resource.