Will high schools change the names of their teams as well?

Emily Putnam
Created: July 13, 2020 05:56 PM

(WHEC) — Following the announcement from the Washington Redskins that it will be changing its team name, some changes may be coming for local school districts using similar names as well. 

While the history of Native Americans runs deep in our region, and many are interested in honoring that history, some say depicting Native American images on team logos and t-shirts is doing more harm than good. 

Peter Jemison, a member of the Six Nations of Indians, says that "the most offensive part, of course, is the way fans feel they need to dress when they go to a game in order to demonstrate how loyal they are, how rabid they are as a fan. Those are the things that are really cartoonish and offensive really, that people think they need to do."

Peter has helped local school districts navigate changing their team names in the past. 

Jemison says the Black Lives Matter movement has opened the door for a conversation about making meaningful changes for minorities and underrepresented groups in our country.

West Irondequoit changed its team name from the “Indians” to the “Eagles” in 2002, while Denny Fries was serving as the athletic director. He spent his entire 39-year career there and was involved in conducting research behind the district’s decision to make the change. 

Fries’ best advice for districts considering making a change? Do your homework.

“You gotta read the history books, but not written by people who look like us. Written by the Native Americans," Fries said.

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