Saturday, 11 November 2017 19:51

Heritage Not For Sale: Part 2 Featured

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STATEWIDE - There used to be dozens of schools in the state that adopted native american mascots. There are now only three.

Educators and tribal representatives in the area say significant progress has been made, but that the conversation is far from over.

 

Many of those same people think some towns, and especially the Wells, Nokomis, and Skowhegan schools aren't doing enough.

 

"It's interesting that they treat [a statue] like a person," Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador sarcastically laughed. "But when actual indigenous people say, you know, 'we'd rather not be your mascot,' they don't value actual human feelings."

 

As recently as this year, Skowhegan "Indian" teams used cartoon logos depicting a Native American man flexing and wearing war paint and a sacred headdress, while a feathered spear separated the image from the team name.

 

In October, in Wells, home of the "Warriors," parents accused adults of making gestures and whooping sounds during a high school football game.

 

This month, the school board said it has not found wrongdoing yet, but has put together a committee to look into the complaint.

 

One school district that seems to have gotten it right is Old Town.

 

"The chief had contacted us, and said that at least they wanted to discuss the possibility of doing away with the mascot," School board chair Jim Dill said.

 

After three years of meetings the board decided to change, and the students were happy to help come up with a new idea.

 

"I want to say they were ok with changing the mascot because they were so deeply involved with changing it," Dill added.

 

Once the juvenile voters chose a coyote they needed a logo, and they reached out for some professional help - from none other than the Arizona Coyotes; an NHL team in a state with its own rich indigenous history.

 

"I think once the whole situation was explained why we did this and why we wanted to do it, they were very, very fine with doing that," Dill said.

 

Educators say Old Town is a perfect example for other towns to follow to limit the psychological damage they say symbols can cause to residents.

 

"That, I think, turned into a real commitment to not only educating native and non-native students about native histories and cultures," said Darren Ranco, UMaine department chair of Native American Studies. "But also being the kind of guidance for the rest of the state when it comes to educating Maine's students about Native American culture."

 

 

 

Reporter's note: Educational leaders from Nokomis and Skowhegan schools were contacted in reference to this story, and did not respond to interview requests.

 

 

 

 

David Guildford

Weekend Anchor/Reporter
[email protected]

David joined the news team in March of 2017. First and foremost he is a proud Mainer. Before reporting for ABC7 and FOX22, he interned at WLBZ2 in Bangor, and attended the University of Maine's journalism program.

David was raised in the western Maine foothills, and has been a lifelong viewer of local Maine news. He hopes to bring this perspective to telling the stories of folks in the community.

When not on the job, David enjoys skiing, snowmobiling, spending time at the family camp on Branch Lake, and playing slow-pitch softball with the other Bangor gym class heroes.