These are tentative logos for the Sewanhaka High School mascot, which...

These are tentative logos for the Sewanhaka High School mascot, which is changing to Ravens from Indians. The Sewanhaka school district is complying with the state mandate for schools to eliminate Native American mascots by June of next year. Credit: Sewanhaka School District

Sewanhaka High School officials have announced their mascot will change to the Ravens as the district complies with the state mandate for schools to eliminate Native American mascots by June of next year.

The new mascot, which replaces the Indians logo, was announced during a school board meeting Wednesday night. It followed a year of surveys and committee work with input from the community, students, faculty and alumni, said high school Principal Nichole Allen.

"The desire of the community was to honor the traditions of Sewanhaka and pay homage to the Native American culture for which we are named," Allen said, according to a video recording of the meeting.

She added, "This was no easy task, and emotions were involved. But this group … wanted to ensure the legacy of this building would remain although the mascot would change." 

The process of replacing the mascot at the Floral Park school began last spring following the mandate by the state Board of Regents that public schools in the state replace mascots that use Native American names and imagery. The decision affected 13 school districts on Long Island, which must make the changes by June 30, 2025.

There are five high schools altogether with various mascots in the Sewanhaka district. Sewanhaka High School is the only one in the district required to make the change.

Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park last month. The Indians...

Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park last month. The Indians name and logo will soon be replaced by the Ravens.  Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Rough mock-ups of the new mascot were revealed during the meeting, showing the image of a raven with its wings spread wide, as well as the bird in profile, using the school colors of purple and gold. The new logo, expected to be refined and completed next week, will be put into use in September, Allen said.

District Superintendent Thomas Dolan said, "We chose a wonderful mascot. It is still consistent with Native American imagery. There are a lot of connections between ravens and Native American lore." 

Allen said the raven represents change and transformation, and she noted that the bird is having a "comeback" on Long Island.

Dolan thanked Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont) for obtaining a grant for $200,000 to modify facilities at the school. That includes changing the logos on the football field and basketball court as well as school uniforms, for a total estimated cost of about $500,000, he said.

"The new mascot marks a new chapter for Sewanhaka High School and marks a positive step in creating a more inclusive school environment," said Solages, a graduate of the district, in a statement.

The committee driving the process was composed of 34 alumni, community members, students and faculty, Allen said. The committee sent out surveys to gauge the community's sentiment on changing the mascot, and 500 residents responded. The potential names were whittled down to three: the Aviators, Ravens and Wolves. Another community poll helped choose the final name, she said.

“I am very happy with the new mascot," said Sewanhaka Athletic Director Matt McLees. "All voices were heard and this mascot will become the new face of Sewanhaka High School moving forward.”

Several Long Island school districts are close to announcing new mascots. In Brentwood, a community and student survey has chosen Spartans for the mascot, to replace Indians.  

Harry Wallace, chief of the Unkechaug Nation, who lives on the Poospatuck reservation in Mastic, said he was pleased that the Sewanhaka district was following the state's mandate to remove "these offensive mascots."

"Perhaps now the schools can begin a real process of education about the true story of Native Americans in this state and begin a meaningful dialogue with Unkechaug, Matinecock, Setaukett, Montaukett and Shinnecock communities about history and culture," he wrote in an email.

The mandate, which came with a threat of losing state aid, was met by outcries in some communities, where critics said the state was overstepping its authority and that the names represented tradition and community pride. Legal action taken by five Island districts — Amityville, Connetquot, Massapequa, Wantagh and Wyandanch — is ongoing.

With Gregg Sarra

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