Op-Ed in the Greenfield Recorder Dec. 16, 2016. Full column here.
Trying to sort out the issues, let alone the feelings, associated with Gill-Montague Regional School District’s “Indians” mascot can be challenging.But the picture should be clearer with respect to the “Tomahawk Chop” — a way cheerleaders and pep band charged up the football team’s fans, until the School Committee banned the practice in 2009, that is.
The School Committee at that time concluded correctly that the gesture, however innocently employed, was offensive to Native Americans. The committee chose to ban the practice, specifically citing the band and cheerleaders in the minutes of the meeting, although the discussion preceding the vote implied the ban would apply to all school-sponsored groups.
That was well and good, and concern over the chop faded. But, unfortunately, school officials never codified the school board vote into a written policy that was spelled out in the student handbook or athletic codes. So, many in the community became confused and upset when their football team was criticized for using the chop at the Thanksgiving Day game — for violating a policy that was actually hard to find.
The last few words of the column could be taken as an insightful Freudian slip: “…although we think that should remain a settled issue.”