Owego Apalachin Adopts “River Hawks” as “Indian” Mascot Retired
An arduous and sometimes contentious process has culminated with the Owego Apalachin Central School District officially dropping the nickname "Indians."
On the eve of the new school year, the district announced it was moving to immediately transition to the "River Hawks" mascot.
Many students and residents of the Tioga County school district strongly opposed the change. Some suggested they would never accept a change, insisting "Once an Indian, Always an Indian."
Ultimately, the New York state Department of Education directed all school districts to stop using Native American mascots, nicknames and logos whether the move was supported by local residents. Districts that balked at the order faced the prospect of losing millions of dollars in state aid.
The Owego Apalachin announcement noted the state's ruling stressed "the need to move away from mascots that can perpetuate stereotypes and cultural insensitivity."
A committee of high school students had been working on the process of selecting a new mascot. The group was inundated with a wide array of suggestions from students and residents.
In a final online poll of three potential names, "River Hawks" received support from two-thirds of the participants.
The school district now is moving to develop a logo design and rebranding process.
People who have strong ties and memories to the district and Owego Free Academy will be able to view what's known as the "Appeal to the Great Spirit" statue at its new location. The statue has been moved to a hallway near the high school swimming pool.