CAMBRIDGE — The Indian is disappearing from the campus of Cambridge Central School.
The Eastern Forest Warrior’s profile was on full display during the Class of 2022 launch ceremony on June 24, but custodial staff began a cover-up early the following week.
The Indian image was taped to the sign and bulletin board in front of the school. Decals were removed from school vehicles and storage sheds, and the “Home of the Indians” image and slogan on the football field press box was covered in white fabric. The Native American “Indians” profile and name remained on the football scoreboard.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Sara McGinty ruled June 21 that the school must comply with a July 1 deadline set by state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa to remove the nickname and the Native American imagery it has used since the 1950s. The decision was the latest step in an ongoing dispute over whether the school should respect the wishes of Native American communities who do not want to be mascots for white people or defend the local tradition.
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At a school board meeting in January, school superintendent Douglas Silvernell estimated that changing the name on signs, uniforms, websites and print and removing the ubiquitous image would cost the district more than $92. $400. This did not include the cost of modifying or replacing the football and basketball scoreboards.
In June, Silvernell announced a $61,000 estimate to refinish the high school gymnasium floor, on which the Indian was painted on the boards.
“The project would be tendered and the actual cost would depend on the outcome of the tenders,” district spokesman Chris Crucetti said in an email. “Other than in-house labor, the district spent nothing on the move. For now, the logo is hidden on campus.
In an unsigned statement posted June 27 on the school’s website, the school board acknowledged that the district had begun eliminating the Indian.
“While the Board of Education has not determined how it will proceed on this legal matter, the District has begun the process to remove or cover up the ‘Indians’ moniker or imagery on our campus,” the statement said.
“The Education Commissioner’s advance ruling and the court’s decision binds the District to a July 1, 2022 opt-out deadline. The District is legally bound to comply with this directive at this time and has no choice in the matter. While we understand that many are upset with the decision, we cannot risk the ramifications it may have on our students if we do not act. The school board is reviewing the options and will address the issue in more detail at the July 7 board meeting. »
In a memo to the school board dated Sept. 15, Rosa warned the district that violating her order could result in school officers being fired or state funds withheld. The school challenged her decision, but McGinty ruled in favor of Rosa.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no agenda had been posted for Thursday evening’s school board meeting. Board of Education President Jessica Ziehm, who had the only seat up for election, had no official challenger and easily defeated a written campaign, so the composition of the school board is unchanged.