Cooperstown schools drop 'Redskins' name

By Kelly McCarthy
By Sam Gaddes
By Matt Hicks

March 6, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 12:29 AM EDT

Cooperstown, NY (WBNG Binghamton) An Otsego County school is now looking for a new mascot following a vote that nixed the name "Redskins" for future use.

The issue was first brought to the district's attention by a group of concerned students.

"The questions of where you go to school, and what's your mascot nickname come up and they found themselves to be a bit uncomfortable in the conversation," said David Borgstrom, president of the Cooperstown Board of Education.

Inside the Cooperstown High School auditorium, red and black banners with the Redskin mascot still hang, showing pride in a longtime tradition.

Their trophy cases have old football memorabilia of the Redskins that date back to 1967.

"The (student) concerns are with the insensitivity that they perceived in the name 'Redskins' and how it pertained to Native peoples," said Superintendent C.J. Herbert.

The potential change had been getting a lot attention in the community.

"I think the students, just like the community at large, have a mixed response to it," Herbert said. "I think that many of them are very pleased to see the possibility of change within their school community. Others have some level of anxiety about losing something they have connected with for their high school years."

With the vote to change the mascot nickname, the school district now has to replace team uniforms.

"A couple people have raised the question of where that money would come from, but the issue isn't really money, I think it's tradition," Borgstrom said.

Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter heard about the possible name change. In a letter to students, Halbritter said Oneida Nation would help pay for any new uniforms if they got rid of the Redskins name.

"Their offer is certainly greatly appreciated and we have been in contact with them and we feel that it is very generous," Herbert said.

An offer from Oneida Nation shows Cooperstown a school mascot means more than just school spirit. The major concern the school has received from the public thus far is a loss in tradition.

"Really, just kind of a realization that time's changed and perceptions changed and if there was anyone who was offended by that then we need to take a hard look at it," Herbert said.

Despite the vote, Borgstrom said the board will continue to recognize the Redskins name and the history it holds with the Cooperstown community.

The school district will welcome submissions for a new mascot.

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