Greenfield Recorder Editorial: Mascot Debate Promises to Be Fair


The Gill-Montague Regional School Committee is trying hard to give everyone plenty of time and space to consider the Turners Falls High School “Indians” mascot.

A handful of residents have told the committee they think the mascot is offensive to actual American Indians and is especially inappropriate for a school named after a militia captain known for attacking a Native American village near the Great Falls where present day Gill and Montague come together. The group, led by long-time Montague resident David Detmold, asked the committee to change the mascot name.

Perhaps remembering the protracted debate, animosity and lawsuit triggered by the proposal that eventually changed the Frontier “Redskins” to “Red Hawks,” Gill-Montague school officials are handling their request with utmost care.

Predictably, as soon as word spread that the committee had proposed a process for reviewing the mascot, battle lines began forming, with the traditionalists within a week attracting nearly 1,000 signatures to a petition for the status quo. That was followed by a counter-petition favoring a name change, although, so far, the number of signatories to the newer petition is smaller. And the debate had already been engaged on social media, on The Recorder’s website and in letters.

Read the full editorial in the Greenfield Recorder.


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2 thoughts on “Greenfield Recorder Editorial: Mascot Debate Promises to Be Fair”

  1. I got an email about this from Kathleen Brown Pe’rez/UMASS:
    This petition was created in response to a growing number of citizens who feel that the Turners Falls Indians mascot needs to be changed. While we understand that this mascot has the intention of honoring the Indigenous and native tribes who were massacred in The Battle of Turners Falls, research and education has shown that it is not the case.

    The United States Commission on Civil Rights writes “The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights calls for an end to the use of Native American images and team names by non-Native schools. The Commission deeply respects the rights of all Americans to freedom of expression under the First Amendment and in no way would attempt to prescribe how people can express themselves. However, the Commission believes that the use of Native American images and nicknames in school is insensitive and should be avoided.”
    Those of us who are calling for the change in the mascot have an understanding of tradition. Segregated schools and Jim Crow laws in the South were a ‘tradition’. Derogatory names used for Asians, Latinos and many other races of people were part of a tradition as well. Just
    because it is a tradition, does not make it right. So we are calling for a change in the Turners Falls mascot.
    One of the arguments for not changing the mascot is that it will be a hefty cost to the district, not so.
    The Adidas company has offered to pay for the cost of changing the school mascots for any high school willing to do so.
    Lastly, we do not come to this debate without solutions. At the heart of this issue is the need to work together to create something we ALL can take pride in. The population of Turners has changed rapidly, becoming far more diverse. If those who want to honor the indigenous and native tribes who died in the Battle of Turners Falls, don’t call yourselves Indians, call them by their actual tribe names – Wampanoag, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Wabanaki. The image (which is that of western plains individual and not a native of western Massachusetts) itself is not a true representation and therefore cannot be considered an honor for those a part of any of the tribes lost during the battle. Turners Falls at its core is seen as a progressive and welcoming town for all.
    New businesses have come here and brought new visitors which has reignited our home. Let’s keep moving forward and do the right thing!

    Concerned parents, community members, and friends of Turners Falls

    This petition will be delivered to:
    Gill Montague Regional School District

    _Kathleen A. Brown-P?rez, MBA/JD_

    _Commonwealth Honors College faculty_

    _University of Massachusetts Amherst_

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, thank you! This is the exact wording from the petition which I cite within this series of posts. Kathleen Brown-Perez recently delivered a worthy address toward these ends which was quoted in a recent online article. I will add that to the litany tonight, to keep the record complete. Thank you for the reminder Trace! Your attention and support are much appreciated – this is going to be an extended debate for change.


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