Schools vote to change mascots referencing Cowboys, Indians, but not without a fight

A northern New Jersey school district has voted to change the mascots of two of its high schools, but not without some push back from the community.

News 12 Staff

Jun 23, 2020, 9:31 AM

Updated 1,401 days ago

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A northern New Jersey school district has voted to change the mascots of two of its high schools, but not without some push back from the community.
Pascack Hills High School will no longer be the Cowboys and Pascack Valley High School will no longer be the Indians. But a petition with at least 1,000 signatures is fighting to keep the names.
“We are Cowboy country, we wanna stay Cowboy country,” said one Pascack Hills student.
But the enthusiasm to remain the Indians is not as strong at Pascack Valley.
“We’re talking about decades of history and culture and tradition, but at the same time, you can’t use tradition as an excuse,” says Pascack Valley student Christian Downey.
Downey says that in today’s climate, saying the wrong thing can have dire consequences.
The change could have a ripple effect all over the Garden State. At least a dozen New Jersey school districts use names like Chiefs, Braves or Indians. Cowboys is still unique. But even that name is not without controversy.
“I think it could be seen as derogatory towards women,” said one mother.
But others are still fighting for the Cowboys name, people like Pascack Hills alum Dave Aurichio, who might be the best athlete to ever don a Pascack Hills Cowboys uniform. Aurichio’s five daughters also went to the school. He wants to see the name stay.
“I understand the times we’re in right now,” he says. “Yes, its nostalgia. If it’s pride, yes, it’s pride. It’s a lot of things. It’s a lot of different emotions right now.”
The school board did not get back to News 12 New Jersey with a statement. Superintendent Erik Gunderson touted the change on Twitter but was not available for an interview.
 


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