Thursday, 06 December 2018 23:04

Skowhegan 'Indians' team name sparks debate Featured

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SKOWHEGAN - During a crowded school board meeting in Skowhegan locals on both sides of the issue debate whether the high school should keep the Skowhegan Indians mascot.

The image of a Native American is still currently on some walls, but a member of the SAD 54 School Board said the negative imagery was removed years ago.


But some who spoke at Thursday's meeting at the middle school said it sends the wrong message.


Lisa Savage, who is against the team name, said she wants it changed "so that the kids don't have to feel torn between what they know is right and the traditions that were adopted in a time when people didn't understand as much."


This is not the first time the issue has come up. The board voted to keep the "Skowhegan Indians" in 2015.


Now, Governor Elect Janet Mills has sent a letter to the board asking them to reconsider.


Residents said this is the last high school in the state with a Native American team name.


Some feel that's not a bad thing, and that the vote from 2015 should be respected.


Supporters wearing "Skowhegan pride" clothing said it pays tribute to the town's roots.


"I think it shows respect and honor," said Judi York, who said she's lived in Skowhegan her entire life, "and if we lose the name, then we're saying that they weren't important."


"it's always been the name, it's almost like family, it's heritage, it's the way it is," said Barbara Zyr, who is also for keeping the name.


Some people of Native American descent at the meeting got up to say they support the name, too.


But some of the younger speakers there, and the Penobscot Nation's Tribal Ambassador said it perpetuates harmful stereotypes.


Maulian Dana said she has been threatened by people who want to keep the mascot.


"The Indian mascot is a problem because it takes a people group and turns them into some kind of token or caricature, when we a lot more than that," said Dana.


School board members said they will hold an open forum on this issue Jan. 8th at 6 p.m. at the Skowhegan Area Middle School's gymnasium.


Kelly Mitchell

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Kelly Mitchell joined the news team in March of 2018. She grew up splitting her time between York, ME and Haverhill, MA, but her favorite childhood memories took place along the rocky coast of southern Maine. She's now e...

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