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Lord of the Ring By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The public school board of Nyack, New York says their high school students cannot buy a senior class ring with an image of the famous Nyack Indian on it. The Nyack Indian Foundation (2003) says they can. So, who’s Lord of the Ring? 

The whole issue over the Nyack Indian image was brought to a crisis last year when the Nyack school board voted that the Nyack High School could no longer use the Indian image or logo. The school had proudly sported the Nyack Indian for seventy-five years.  


The “progressive” board, urged on by the New York State school superintendent Richard Mills, felt that the Indian image was harmful and offensive to Indians. Mills was religiously following the letter of the hastily composed USCCR statement, which says the use of Indian names, images, or logos for school teams “creates a hostile educational environment.” All this political self-righteous drama, despite the fact that there was not a single American Indian in the school district, nor on the Nyack faculty. There were no Indians in Nyack to be offended.


After the Nyack boards tyrannical decision to ban the Nyack Indian, the ring company contracting with the Nyack high school refused to offer any more rings with the Nyack Indian engraved on them. The Jostens ring company issued a letter to the protesting student body that there would be no more Indian rings available for purchase. (Word has it, however, that some offended students were so vociferous about it that they were able to obtain the coveted, traditional ring of the Nyack Indians.) Then Jostens declared they would sell no more Indian rings, on or off campus. 


The new Nyack Indian Foundation came to the rescue.  


The Foundation contacted another ring company, Artcarved, and Nyack Indian rings were soon made available to the students through a local jeweler. The Foundation has also scheduled two nights at the local American Legion Hall when students can come and purchase their Indian rings. 


Is this a simple story, or is this a classic case of tyranny by a public school board, with openly leftist members who are determined to wipe out freedom of choice, freedom of expression, and even free enterprise?  


It takes a village, indeed. Only in a small idyllic community could such oppression be pawned off as “caring” and “compassionate.” 


Nyack is infested with far-Left influences, even within the high school student body.  Don Hammond, president of the Nyack School Board, twice condescendingly told me it was okay for me to call him a Communist—which, in fact, I never did, in Nyack or in writing. But the simple fact is, the Left rules Nyack school policy.  


And yet the Nyack Public Schools Mission Statement says “we, the students, parents, community and staff…value the richness of our diverse community,” as long as there are no Indians visible. “We envision an environment that fosters cultural appreciation,” as long as it doesn’t include Indians.


The inconsistency, even the hypocrisy of these artificially created circumstances were just too much for one young Nyack High School girl.


Kimberly DeLorenzo wrote to the Rockland Journal News, the paper that serves Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties.  (Nyack is in Rockland County.)


She called attention to the nationally televised Grammy performance of Outkast, the black hip-hop group, during which they performed a grotesquely inaccurate imitation of American Indian dance, yet were hailed with great enthusiasm by the audience. “There was nothing but cheering, smiles and a standing ovation from the large crowd that attended.”


Kimberly notes, “Costumes resembling Indian clothing were worn by the performers, and the keyboard player had a huge headdress on. The choreography was obviously practiced to imitate Indian dancing, yet the song had nothing to do with Indians.”


Kimberly reminds the Board, “We, at Nyack High School, however, are forbidden to have a small logo of an Indian that symbolizes the actual history of our town and the spirit of our school.”


A pop music group can mock something as sacred to Indians as dance, and yet Nyack High School is not allowed to proudly display with honor, a historical image of a Nyack Indian. 


Kimberly cites the Outkast put on, and says, “If that's allowed, then we should be allowed to have our logo back.”


And students should at least have the choice to buy a school ring with the Nyack Indian on it.  The Nyack Indian Foundation preserved that much freedom for them. There ought to be an Indian honor dance for that.

Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.

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