Shelter Island school board votes unanimously to retire the nickname Indians

The Shelter Island School Board of Education met on Monday evening, ending six weeks of research and discussion into the question of retiring the nickname ‘Indians’ and the image of a Native American used since the 1970s to identify the school’s athletic teams.

The board voted unanimously to retire the name.

School Board President Kathleen Lynch said the vote on Monday was only about the fate of the name. The process of choosing a new name or mascot, as well as discussion of the yearbook’s name (Pogatticut, a Native American name that predates the use of Indians as the teams’ name) are questions for the school to decide in subsequent deliberations.

It was the second board meeting in August in which the question of changing the school’s mascot and name was addressed by speakers from the community and representatives of Native American groups, including the Shinnecock Tribe.

As at the Aug. 17 meeting, Monday’s sunset gathering on the field by the playground featured comments from members of the Shelter Island community — including recent as well as not-so-recent graduates of the school — who spoke to both sides of the question.