Local school district speaks out after NYS Board of Regents bans offensive Indigenous branding

ROCHESTER, N.Y. This week the New York State Board of Regents officially banned schools across the state from using any nicknames, mascots, and images referring to Indigenous people.

News10NBC talked to the Canandaigua Central School District. Their nickname is the Braves. Canandaigua Schools Superintendent Jamie Farr tells us he believes if Indigenous people feel their school’s nickname is inappropriate or offensive then it should be changed.

“It’s stressful because you know in most cases a community sometimes will rally around a name or have this romanticized memory of the name through their youth, and they’re attached to it,” said Farr.

For as long as many people can remember Canandaigua Schools have been known as the “Home of the Canandaigua Braves.” The State Board of Regents is giving schools across the state until the end of the 2024-25 school year to remove all nicknames, images, and mascots referring to Indigenous people. Farr says changing names is not an easy process. 

“We’ll have to change uniforms,” said Farr. “Half our uniforms say Canandaigua, half say the Braves. So, home says one, away says the other. We’ll have to have new uniforms. Signs are everywhere, just the branding is all over. We’ve already gone through our entire campus, and we’ve documented everywhere that would have to be changed if this were to become true.”

He tells us there’s community support to change their name from the “Braves” to the “Brave.” So far, the Board of Regents will not accept their proposed new name.

“It’s a vestige of who you were, and you have a history of being associated with Native American imagery and so you need to move further away from that, and the same thing could be said about things, names like Warriors,” said Farr.

He also says the school community is fairly divided on this issue.

“Some believe it’s time and we should be moving on, and some believe that you know this is who we are, it is what they say,” said Farr. “You know those are their words, and we’ve been this name a very long time, and we shouldn’t need to change.”

Avon Central School District is also known as the “Braves.” School Superintendent Ryan Pacatte says they are waiting on additional guidance from the Board of Regents before they make any changes to their name. 

News10NBC has reached out to both Letchworth Schools and Red Jacket Schools, which are known as the “Indians.” News10NBC is still waiting to hear from them. Click here to see the outlined steps Canandaigua Schools are taking.