Oriskany School District defends Redskins team nickname

Oriskany sports teams have been known as the Redskins for decades but now that the Washington Redskins are under pressure to change their name, Oriskany players and the school district want people to know their nickname was a way to celebrate the alliance between Native Americans and settlers in the area.

"When the name was initially chosen, it was done at a time period where the term redskin was a term of respect, endearment and admiration for the people that had such a positive impact on the early colonial settlers in this area," said Oriskany High School principal Eric Knuth.

In Oriskany, the Oneida Nation joined with colonial settlers during the revolutionary war. They fought together at the Oriskany Battlefield, a site lass than a mile from the high school. Current Oriskany football player Ryan Lockwood says he has always considered the Redskins name a tribute to native Americans and hopes it isn't misunderstood.

"You have the connection, you have the history and its obviously proven that it's a positive name, its not a derogatory name," said Lockwood.

The Oriskany School District says they have never been approached by the Oneida Nation about changing their name. Knuth said that while some other sports teams have disrespected Native Americans with their logos or uniforms, he says Oriskany have treated the name as an honor.

"None of our mascots or attire has anything to do with caricatures or cartoon drawings of Native Americans. it is all about pride," said Knuth.

"We take pride in our name. It's who we are. It's our identity almost," said Lockwood.

While Oriskany uses the Redskins nickname as a means of respect, the district says it is also willing to work with any Native American groups who are offended by it.

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