Nolumbeka Project Calls for Change in Turners Falls Mascot

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The Nolumbeka Project, the non-tribal organization for New England’s Native American tribes, is calling for the end of the Turners Falls High School’s current mascot, the “Indians.” The statement, which says the organization collaborates with the Nipmuck Nation, the Narragansett, the Aquinnah Wampanoag, the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans and Elnu Abenaki, said all of the tribes do not condone the use of Native American symbols as team mascots or nicknames.

The statement comes as a response to public debate on whether the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee should change the high school’s mascot. The School Committee is set to debate the issue on Tuesday.

David Brule, the co-president of the Nolumbeka Project and a Turners Falls High School graduate, said that while many in the Turners Falls community believe the mascot honors the local Native American culture, it is not the place of those in the community who aren’t Native American to decide for those who are. “Our position is that the tribes are the sole judges of what ‘honors’ them or what does not,” says a statement released by Brule. “We understand the non-tribal traditions and misplaced pride of sports teams using Indian symbols and mascots, but the time has come to let it go.”

Read the full story in the Greenfield Recorder.

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Turners Falls Board to Discuss Indians Mascot Tuesday

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Tuesday night’s school committee will include a time for public input about the Turners Falls High School mascot debate. Later in the meeting, the School Committee will also discuss the much- talked-about proposal and potentially vote on it. The meeting begins with an executive session at 6 p.m. the public portion of the meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the TV studio at Turners Falls High School.

Read the full notice in the Greenfield Recorder.

UMass Assistant Prof Addresses Oppression of American Indians

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Kathleen Brown-Pérez was 15 years old when she spoke in great detail with her grandfather of their tribe, known as the Brothertown Indian Nation or the Eeyamquittoowauconnuck. This talk with her grandfather motivated her to study federal Indian law and to inform American Indians of their civil rights.

Brown-Pérez, an assistant professor with the Commonwealth Honors College, held a lecture on the oppression of American Indians on Wednesday evening at the University of Massachusetts. She delivered her address, titled “Defined Out of Existence: The U.S. Government’s Continuing Attempt to Remove and Replace American Indians,” at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies.

Read about Brown-Perez’s presentation here, in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian.

Indigenous Vermonters Form Abenaki First Group: Seven Days Humor

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Emotions ran high at the Swanton Public Library last week during the inaugural meeting of the newly formed anti-settlement group, Abenaki First.

“Enough is enough,” exclaimed group leader Don Edchute. “There are now more than 600,000 non-indigenous Vermonters living on this land. It’s about time we put our foot down and finally put an end to this reckless immigration.”

Get the full story in Seven Days, the Parmelee Post.

Kik8mkwak: the Garden Fish

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Look in the mid-ground of this photo, taken at noon in mid-September above the shallows of the Kwanitekw/ Connecticut River at the confluence of Kitad8gan Sibo/Whetstone Brook. A squadron of suckers, kik8mkwak, maybe 50 or 60 of them, are all hovering there in the warming sun, facing west and waiting for the next big thing to wash down from the hills. The name “kik8mkwa” in Western Abenaki literally means “field or garden fish,” from their use in traditional planting as fertilizer, specifically kik8n = improved land or garden plus -akw = fish. White suckers will move upstream in May to spawn, traveling in great numbers from their usual haunts in lakes and rivers into the smaller tributary brooks and streams. Rather than using the more valuable anadromous shad, salmon, alewives, and herring for planting, the less desirable and easily procured suckers fit the bill quite well.

A story from Dr. Fred Wiseman illustrates the practice well: “Former Koasek Chief Nancy Millette says that when she was a child, she and her little friends went to the Connecticut River and its tributaries in the spring to catch the sucker fish that ran in huge schools so thick “that your could almost walk upon them.” She says the fish were not for eating, but for the gardens. This was a revelation to me, because I had known that the Abenaki word for sucker fish was “kikômkwa,” and the first syllable was hauntingly similar to “kikôn,” the Abenaki word for field. I had dismissed the connection, but after Chief Nancy’s information sunk in, I discovered from 18th-century Abenaki dictionaries that the word originally meant “the garden fish.” So linguistics from years ago explains an obscure cultural connection between spring fish runs and the gardens that were being prepared at the same time. Today, it is traditional to insert one or more fish or parts of fish “about the size of your open hand” 8 to 18 inches deep in the mound.”

Sources:

Notes on a Lost Flute, Kerry Hardy, 2009.

Sun Dance Season: An Abenaki Summer, Fred Wiseman, 2015.

Greenfield Recorder Editorial: Mascot Debate Promises to Be Fair

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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.

NEPR Cites the Turners Falls Indians Mascot Debate

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Click here to sign the petition for change.

A debate over whether a western Massachusetts school district should change the name of a high school mascot has gone online, as both sides of the issue prepare to lobby school officials.

Read the transcript on nepr.net.