Inspired by Their Warrior Mascot, a Pennsylvania School Board Turns Back a Leftist Invasion

Inspired by Their Warrior Mascot, a Pennsylvania School Board Turns Back a Leftist Invasion
Inspired by Their Warrior Mascot, a Pennsylvania School Board Turns Back a Leftist Invasion

American society’s “woke” activists specialize in making national issues out of local concerns. They like to use the national news media and the federal courts to push their agenda ahead. Often, such strategies work well. However, the added publicity can backfire and broadcast the left’s failures.

One such failure occurred in a rural area just south of York, Pennsylvania. A local school’s American Indian symbols became the focus of woke controversy as activists insisted upon removing them. However, the controversy took another direction when two national organizations of Native American Indians took opposing sides.

Inspired by Their Heritage

Susquehannock High School is located near the borough of Glen Rock. The school drew its name from the Indian tribe that inhabited the area. The nearby Susquehanna River draws its name from the same source.

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The Susquehannocks disbanded in about 1678 following a military defeat by the Iroquois Confederacy. Scattered bands headed into western Pennsylvania and Ohio, where some joined the Shawnees. Others went north to New York and joined the Seneca and Onondaga. Modern descendants live among the Iroquois and Lenape.

When the Southern York County School District opened a high school in the early fifties, it took the name of the area’s ancient inhabitants. The high school extended the metaphor by calling its teams the Warriors. Naturally, the logo for the school also reflected American Indian heritage. That insignia went through several versions, but most recently, the bust of a warrior with two feathers was placed against a keystone, the Pennsylvania state symbol. Behind the warrior were a stone tomahawk and a peace pipe.

The overall effect of the logo is to inspire students to emulate the courage and determination of the Susquehannocks. In no way could it be described as comic, cute or demeaning. Indeed, the local community acknowledged the area’s Native American Indian heritage in a very public and genuine way.

The Leftist Octopus Attacks!

A respectful school symbol such as Susquehannock’s was presented in various contexts, from official stationery to band uniforms and athletic contests. It is difficult to see what the forces of “wokeness” had against the Southern York School District.

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However, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) makes it a point to enter these controversies. Its web page boasts that “the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.” Its Policy Research Council follows the well-worn “woke” pattern. It “is actively engaged through national and international advocacy efforts, educational campaigns and events, and programmatic initiatives.”

One leftist hand washes the others. In September 2023, Fox News reported that “the NCAI shows that it receives support from seven different taxpayer-funded bureaucracies.” Perhaps even more significant is that NCAI “also lists among its supporters [the George] Soros’ Open Society Foundations, a grantmaking network which, according to its critics, promotes woke ideology, racial division and a simplistic binary narrative of American history.”

Absolutist Tyranny from the Left

NCAI is also the self-appointed arbiter of Native American Indian images. The organization made a name for itself, successfully protesting such symbols used by the Washington Redskins football team and Cleveland Indians baseball club.

As with most leftist organizations, the NCAI is absolutist. As it stated in a 2015 letter to the very liberal Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, “The continued use of racist and derogatory ‘Indian’ sports mascots, logos, and symbols have perpetuated negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples. Rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes contribute to a disregard for the diverse cultural heritage of Native peoples.”

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There is no room for rational argument, nor do they attempt to distinguish between respectful and disrespectful logos. Such use of Native American images is harmful, period.

An Atmosphere of Revolution

The NCAI entered the Susquehannock school situation in 2021. At that time, leftists on the school board considered replacing the old logo. Then-school board member Deborah Kalina placed it in the context of the chaotic Covid and Antifa summer of 2020 in an op-ed for the York Daily Record—a local newspaper.

“A student letter to the board in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 asked the district to consider retiring the stereotypical Indian warrior image. The board… hosted a public meeting with leaders from Native American communities, among them the National Congress of American Indians…. There is compelling academic research that shows Native mascots generate negative psychological effects for Native students…. Native mascots also are associated with negative stereotypes and a tendency to discriminate against Native Americans.”

Great contention followed, with both sides mounting petition drives. According to an Associated Press report, one petition “against removing the mascot garnered 3,800 signatures.” That is a huge number, considering that the high school’s student body is only 758. Nonetheless, the board decided by a 7-2 vote to drop the logos while retaining the name “Warriors” in April 2021.

Regaining the Initiative

That decision was one that some board members might regret. As in many American communities, the people of Southern York County used their ballots to replace leftists with citizens who respect the importance of tradition. Five new members took their places in January 2024 and moved immediately to reverse the previous board’s decision. This was not, however, a mindless “kneejerk” reaction. Some of the new members did a bit of homework before introducing their motion.

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The Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA) opposes the NCAI position. One of its slogans is “Educate, not eradicate.” Where NCAI detects ridicule, NAGA sees respect.

“It is undeniable that all past and present nations and civilizations of the world celebrated their early history… America is no different.” NAGA points out that these images promote “Pride, Honor, and Respect.”

“The qualities of tenacity and perseverance were sought by individual public schools, colleges, and universities to associate with not just the schools but the community as a whole. These basic honorable traits and values were instilled in alumni as they ventured into the world around them.”

Defeating the Cultural Tyrants

Just as the leftist members rested upon the rhetoric of NCAI, the new members invited NAGA to provide an hour-long presentation to the board. By the time the marathon-length meeting ended after midnight, the board voted 7-2 to reverse the previous decision. They properly assigned the task of creating the new Indian-head logo to the students in the school’s graphic arts classes.

On one level, this might look like a minor issue. It is not. Such symbols are significant. They play a role in celebrating a community’s culture and transmitting its values to the next generation. Even more crucial, it is part of an organic process by which authentic societies regenerate themselves. Perhaps without understanding its full importance, the Susquehannock community took a vital step in the right direction by rejecting this leftist cultural onslaught.

Photo Credit:  © littleny –