Human Rights League proposes education about Indian mascot

Students read statement at BOE meeting


Human Rights League Members from left to right: Sophomores Emily Le and Chandni Shah, Seniors Grace Cho, Zoe Ziegler, Jasmine Abraham, Vahan Atakhanian, Laura Friel, and Paul Lee

Brianna Ruback, Associate Editor in Chief

During the public commentary portion of the Board of Education meeting that took place on Monday, seniors Grace Cho and Zoe Ziegler from Pascack Valley’s Human Rights League read a prepared statement that stressed the importance of being educated about PV’s Indian mascot.

The Human Rights League has been discussing this issue since last year. Just last May, they wrote an open letter to the community that was published in The Smoke Signal, advocating for equal treatment and allowing for all to feel welcome in the PV community. This was the catalyst for the trending hashtag, #PeaceinPV, where countless students, faculty members, and alumni voiced their opinions on standing up to intolerance and promoting respect and unity.

Last night, the HRL’s statement further proposed opening up our community to “reduce our current cultural appropriation” of the Native American heritage.

Ziegler explained, “As soon as we had it (the statement) prepared, we decided to present it.” She continued, “We are looking to see further action.”

The Human Rights League outlined in their statement that Pascack Valley High School should “One, begin and maintain a long-lasting relationship and correspondence between the Pascack Valley School District and local or non-local Native American tribes” and “Two, make education about Native Americans indigenous to this region a vital and mandatory part of our curriculum.”

President of the PVHS District Board of Education, Jeffrey Steinfeld, recognized that there is a need to educate students about the history and presence of Native Americans in society.

“I think it is extremely important for students to understand that,” Steinfeld stated.

Steinfeld also suggested that the Human Rights League discuss this idea with PV principal, Mr. Tom DeMaio, to carry out their initiative.

Senior Laura Friel said that “it seemed like they needed to process it,” but they seemed on board.

“This was a good first step,” she said.

One line from the statement reads: “If the Pascack Valley community wishes to keep its mascot, we need the represent the culture intelligently, respectfully, and honorably.”