Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter presented a $10,000 check to Cooperstown Central School at a board meeting Wednesday, but not before praising the students who pushed to oust the district’s longtime name of “Redskins.”
He called their efforts “thoughtful,” “inclusive,” “courteous” and “respectful.”
“I cannot say enough about it, you have a lot to be proud of here,” he said. “It is really amazing that some kids are really leading the way on this issue. You know neutral respect should not be controversial in this day and age.”
The check is to defray the cost for new uniforms when the name CCS Hawkeyes becomes effective on July 1. The Redskins name was retired, effective June 30, at a school board meeting in March.
Halbritter, who is also CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, said the students have “recognized that we are part of a broader community in this world.”
“More and more high schools and colleges are beginning to recognize the significance of using nicknames that are offensive to others, and it is encouraging to see that they are doing that here,” Halbritter said.
Making the decision right in the shadow of the Baseball Hall of Fame is even more remarkable, according to Halbritter.
Halbritter said CCS is showing more thoughtful and respectful initiatives than many wealthy major-league team owners and urged the Washington professional football team to follow the Cooperstown students’ lead.
Board President David Borgstrom said when students came forward about concerns with the CCS nickname in December, he was proud and impressed with their social awareness. He said the concerns were hard to refute, and the board felt their voices needed to be heard.
“I was proud of the students then, I am proud of them now and I am proud of the entire community for where we are today,” Borgstrom said.