AKWESASNE, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is applauding the efforts of the New York State Board of Regents in banning New York schools from using Native American mascots.

The Tribe said the effort was “much needed” and moves away from perpetuating harmful stereotypes while recognizing the significance of Native Americans as people.

“The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is pleased that the New York State Regents took this critical action to ensure that Native American people are not treated as cartoons but rather living people with a culture and languages that were given to us by the Creator,” Chief Ron LaFrance said.

The Tribe is encouraging government officials at the local, state and federal level, along with North Country residents, to support the effort, stating in a press release that it’s time to “leave offensive and harmful mascots and logos in the past.”

“Sports teams and institutions, including schools, have been asked politely to understand our point of view on this subject, Chief Beverly Cook. said.

“For centuries we have been labeled and characterized as a people not deserving of respect even though we have sacrificed the most of this country. Not only is every single person in New York State and the U.S. standing on our homelands, but no other population, per capita has risked and sacrificed more in all the wars to defend it and the freedoms we all enjoy than the Native people of this country. And those freedoms I might add are drawn from the principals of the Haudenosaunee Great Law of Peace.”

We are not mascots. We are people who are not to be exploited for gain, fun, or entertainment. People say they are ‘honoring us’ when using Native mascots and imagery. An appropriate way to ‘honor us’ is to teach our real history in schools, learn about why the Indian Child Welfare Act is so important, why there is a ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous People’s Day’, how generational trauma continues to impact our communities, and who inflicted the trauma on our people. Learn about how and why the United States of America took our children, our land, our language, our culture. Learn about the atrocities committed by Christopher Columbus, who did not ‘discover America’ and was not a hero. He raped and killed our women and children, fed them to dogs, engaged in slave trade. Learn and teach about each of those, prioritize each of those. Yes, please make sure the schools have the funds needed, but stop exploiting Native people and treat us all with the respect earned and deserved,” said Chief Michael Conners.

Chief Michael Conners, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe