Lancaster school board votes to change Redskins nickname

LANCASTER, NY- The Lancaster School District unanimously passed a resolution to change its controversial "Redskins" nickname during a special school board meeting Monday night.

The school board believed the nickname was offensive to Native Americans, and outweighed the demand to keep the nickname, which had been in place for decades.

While the school board was commenting on the resolution, they were frequently interrupted by the crowd, which is estimated to have been more than 100 people. At one point, Lancaster School Board president Kenneth Graber told the crowd they were acting like children.

"People, ethics and perceptions evolve," Graber said. "What was acceptable 70 years ago clearly is not acceptable today."


The board cited boycotts by three local schools against playing their sports teams as an important reason to change the name, saying keeping the name harmed their students. Lacrosse teams from the Akron, Lake Shore and Niagara-Wheatfield school districts all decided to boycott playing Lancaster while the nickname was still in place. All three school districts have significant Native American populations.

The Seneca Nation of Indians has spoken out against the nickname, saying it is a racial slur.

"You can hear people screaming in the audience. We did none of that. We simply sat there, and we listened," said Hoyendahonh of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. "It's a no-win situation. Nobody wins here. My goal, from the beginning, was that it concerns the kids."

Lancaster's debate over the nickname has drawn national attention from the New York Timesas a microcosm for the debate surrounding the NFL's Washington Redskins. One board member also drew a comparison between the two, saying the school board was not a billion dollar enterprise.


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