Tuesday, 08 January 2019 22:26

Controversy continues over 'Skowhegan Indians' sports team Featured

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SKOWHEGAN - It's the last high school sports team in the state with Native American imagery -- and some want to see that change.

 Dozens spoke at a public forum, voicing their opinion on the Skowhegan Area High School Indians mascot.


Some don't want to see that go, but others at Tuesday's forum at the middle school said it doesn't honor the people it's supposed to.


"It's not just about going to a game to be respectful, they don't know the stories," said Skyler Lewey, a member of the Penobscot Nation Youth Council.


"A lot of the people here supporting the mascot don't know what its like be marginalized or be a minority, they don't know the everyday struggle," said Dylan Smith, who also attend with the Penobscot Nation Youth Council.


Those for keeping the logo have said any negative imagery was removed years ago, and this is a way to celebrate the town's history and its people. Some there pointed to the fact that Skowhegan, and neighboring Norridgewock, are both Indian names.


"I might have been an 'Indian' for four years but it's still in my heart," said Sabrina True, who went to Skowhegan Area High School. "And I'm still a Skowhegan Indian."


One man who drives a school bus for the district said he's for keeping the name and so are the students.


"I asked them what they thought about this and they were all for keeping the name, and these are students that are in this school right now," said Bill True.


"My kids are 9 and 12 and they're a big reason I do this work because these are their peers," said Maulian Dana, the ambassador for the Penobscot Nation, who has spoken at multiple meetings on the subject. "And I want them to be able to express their culture in a very sacred way, and I want them to be seen as people and not mascots."


Some said the decision to keep the name when this same issue came up in 2015 should be respected.


Now added pressure comes from a letter sent by Governor Janet Mills to the school board, asking them to reconsider.


"I appreciate her thoughts but it is a local decision and I'm going to stand by my community," said school board member Jennifer Poirier. "It's the history of our town ... our Indian name is about the people that lived here on the banks of the Kennebec."


The board did not make a final decision Tuesday night.  First the board will be taking all of this into consideration.


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...