TOMS RIVER — The township's school district is among the latest in New Jersey to be petitioned to reconsider Native American-rooted school mascots.

"It's time for Toms River Regional Schools to retire all racially insensitive mascots depicting indigenous Americans, including the Toms River High School South 'Indians', Toms River Intermediate School South 'Seminoles,' and Washington Street Elementary School 'Warriors,'" according to a petition started last weekend by "Alumni of TR Schools."

The petition, which has garnered more than 700 signatures in a four-day span, said after "repeated community efforts over decades" to change the original Toms River High School "Fighting Indians" mascot, school officials instead retained it while also creating the two additional Native American-inspired mascots at a middle and elementary school in the district.

It was not immediately clear to New Jersey 101.5 on Wednesday just when the "Seminoles" and "Warriors" mascots were adopted by their respective schools.

A counter petition was started a day later on titled "Do not retire the Toms River South Indian."

That petition, which has collected more than 200 signatures, was started by Aaron Lopez, who wrote of the TRHS South mascot dubbed "Old Indian Tom" by locals: "Never was he a target for racism towards the Native Americans. He is a symbol of America, the first people that were here before the pirate Christopher Columbus turned them all into slaves. The Indian is a representative of everything good in our country."

Last month in North Jersey, the Wayne school district was addressed in a similar online petition, as the Wayne Valley High School "Indians" mascot, was called an "abysmal misrepresentation of Native Americans."

A few weeks later, the Pascack Valley Regional High School District Board of Education voted to change the names of their two high school teams, the Pascack Hill Cowboys and Pascack Valley Indians.

In Monmouth County, Howell High School recently changed the image associated with its "Rebel" mascot, ditching a Confederate soldier in favor of a newly designed Continental solider drawn up by an alumnus of the school.

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