Massena Central school board adds review of controversial mascot issue to 2017-18 district goals
Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 5:27 pm

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- A review of the controversial Massena Central mascot issue will be among the Board of Education’s district goals for the 2017-18 school year.

At the June board meetings, two seniors came before the board to talk about racial tension the issue is causing among the student body.

Superintendent Pat Brady at the time said the problem is coming from the lack of a mascot now and the continued use by some groups of the controversial Red Raider Indian head from the 20th century.

The head was removed in favor of a block M, but some parent athletic groups still use it, which many Native Americans find offensive and culturally insensitive.

Some non-Native students believe the logo is a badge of honor to the local Native culture.

“The students brought it to us from two different avenues and we owe it to them to give it consideration,” Trustee Lori MacKenzie said.

“It’s worth a discussion. I don’t want to say we’ll come to an agreement before hearing all sides,” Board President Pat Bronchetti said, adding that he spoke with a Hall of Fame committee member who said they would be open to hosting a public meeting on the matter. He did not name the committee member.

“This was an area that was brought up for review, to look at, and that’s normally what we do when we have these items is to put them in the goals for our discussion,” Brady said at the time.

Last month, Brady said the issue is made more complex by a crossover of the Native population who are in favor of the old logo and the non-Native student body who feel it is not appropriate.

“From the Native perspective, reducing their culture to a mascot or caricature is demeaning. They feel they did not ask for their culture to be appropriated and used by the school as a symbol,” Brady said in a June 19 phone interview. “From the non-Native perspective, the general sentiment from what I hear is the Red Raider and Indian head is an expression of honor to the Native culture. Many see it as a heroic symbol and a point of pride. It is part of the school’s history and they do not see what the fuss is all about.

“It does concern me, we have a student population that is 11 percent Native, if any students are feeling like they are not accepted or … feeling like that are not accepted in the school because it is their school as well. And we want all our students to feel comfortable here.”

More information about the discussion at the June school board meeting is at goo.gl/j8oE7t.