(Editor’s Note: This is the last planned piece in our coverage package, “What’s in a Name?”)
Now that the Indian mascot is gone for good, it’s time to move on.
Some parents and Pascack Valley alumni continue to fervently express their dissatisfaction during board meetings and on social media, but the district’s decision is final. They need to accept that the decision has passed and that it’s time to move on.
It seems that these adults care more about the mascot change than the students themselves. If students wanted to fight against the removal of the Indian mascot, they’d write petitions or hold protests or even attend board meetings. From what we’ve seen, this has hardly happened.
What’s more, why is this still a topic of discussion? Don’t we have more important issues to worry about — especially during the pandemic? We should use this energy to focus on future plans, like a graduation ceremony for seniors and preparations for the next school year.
Changing our mascot does not mean erasing our history. It means the start of a new tradition. A new mascot and nickname doesn’t get rid of our PV Pride — which should be stronger than a name change or rebranding.
If having an Indian logo and nickname insults even a small number of Native Americans, then it should not be used at all. The opinions and feelings of Native Americans, regardless of the amount who find it problematic, should never be ignored or overlooked. It’s clear that some Native Americans find Indian mascots and imagery inappropriate.
The PV Indian mascot was selected with the best intentions in mind: students and faculty wanted to honor the Native Americans. It’s clear to us that it was created to be a symbol of respect and pride.
Despite these intentions, it still doesn’t erase the fact that the Indian mascot and nickname doesn’t truly honor the Native Americans.
Our district isn’t the only one to have removed an Indian mascot. High schools throughout NJ — such as Wayne Valley and Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School — have also taken steps to replace their controversial mascots. This has even been seen across the country in schools like Teton High School in Idaho. This has also been an evolving trend seen in some professional sports teams. State legislatures have even passed laws banning the use of all Native American related mascots.
Yes, our school’s mascot removal process should have been more transparent. The sudden vote to retire the mascots took most of the community by surprise, and the following mascot selection process left many unsatisfied. All mascot selection meetings were kept completely closed to the public, and to us. Our reporter was allowed to meet with two student committee representatives after each meeting, but they provided only vague information without details. As a result, most of our school seemed unaware of new developments.
Still, the decision to replace the mascot was ethically and morally correct.
This publication is moving on as well. We decided to replace the Smoke Signal name at the top of our site with question marks, and we plan to select a new name in the upcoming months — one that fully reflects our values and commitment to providing coverage for our community.
Spring is here, and with it comes rebirth — something that can be applied to our school. It’s time to accept the changes that are coming, and look forward to a new era.