Turners Falls Indians: Chopping the Chop Understood by Most

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.”


Published by


The world is a big place. This is how it appears to me. Your results may differ.

4 thoughts on “Turners Falls Indians: Chopping the Chop Understood by Most”

  1. I’m wondering about symbolism, any team who wants to win. A Hatchet? Would a hanging man rope be something to symbolize a victory also? Someone else’s Death/Murder? It all seems so colonized to me… And they are VERY slow to grasp this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The violence in the ritualized act is not seen. It has become iconic. It is a symbol of a symbol, removed from its significance to the point that it is bereft of its origin. You’re right… no athlete would pretend to aim a gun and fire at another team. That’s still too real.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s