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Canandaigua may have to drop mascot, namesake in coming months

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

The Canandaigua City School District faces a deadline to change its Native American-themed school nickname, logo, or mascot, according to a draft regulation issued by the state Board of Regents on December 12th, 2022. In order to keep using the “Braves” name, the school district must receive written permission from a federally recognized tribe in New York State by April 30th, 2023.

However, the school district’s superintendent, Jamie Farr, has expressed doubts that such approval will be granted, despite attempts to seek it out. Even if approval is given, it can be withdrawn at any time.

The district has a Native American history and has sought to maintain respectful and historically accurate symbols. Canandaigua means “The Chosen Place” in Indian, and it is where life began according to a creation story of the Native Americans. The Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy of the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, and Tusacrora tribes signed a treaty with President George Washington in Canandaigua in 1794.

The district has used a variety of Native American-themed symbols and logos in the past, but it removed the Indian head logo it had been using in 2001, replacing it with one using the Friendship Belt and an arrow through the letters “CA.”

The district is considering a name change to “Brave” or “Bears” if approval is not granted, but Farr would like to see a decision made by the end of the school year so rebranding can take place over the summer, even though the district has until the end of the 2024-25 school year to comply with the directive. Failure to comply with the state Education Department directive could result in loss of state aid, which makes up 40% of the district’s revenue.