In a presentation to the district on Monday, a group of current students and staff recommended the school board retire the “Raiders” mascot.
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The group believes the 1961 mascot is “disrespectful” and “misrepresentative” of Native Americans and the once-respected name has become a mockery.
In response, Eric DiTullio — the president of the Seneca Valley School Board — said, “The presentation was phenomenal. I was very impressed that they went on their own not only to do this project but the level of sophistication and maturity they showed at presenting it as well.”
Students also referenced the use of spearheads on school signage and some unofficial images like a cartoon, posted in one of the buildings, with jagged teeth, donning a headdress and tribal markings.
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“We have a sworn tribal affiliation here at Seneca. And the group of people we represent simply feel uncomfortable with how we represent them,” one student said.
Dr. Joe Stahlman of the Seneca Nation of Indians and Director of Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center, who consulted with the group for the project, told KDKA, the word “raider” should not be celebrated or associated with his culture.
“It talks about people coming in, taking what they want, razing villages, having kidnap victims, taking loot and leaving. And that’s not our ways,” he said.
And while the use of this type of imagery remains a hot topic among sports teams and other institutions across the U.S., Dr. Stahlman is calling for sweeping legislation to address these concerns. He said that way the focus can pivot to more serious problems, like socioeconomic and health issues plaguing Indigenous people.
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Some school board members said on Monday that they will strongly consider the students’ input.