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.


NEPR Cites the Turners Falls Indians Mascot Debate


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

Turners Falls Mascot Debate: Board Plans for a Large Crowd


At next Tuesday’s Gill-Montague Regional School Committee meeting, those who want to keep the Turners Falls High School “Indians” mascot will get their chance to make their opening arguments to the board. In an email to committee members and the media, School Committee Chairman Michael Langknecht said he would like to allow public comments at the meeting, giving both sides of the debate the same opportunity to address the board.

“My intent is to hold a normal meeting with the usual public participation at the start,” he wrote in the email. “Since one ‘side’ has spoken once, already, I feel the (keep the mascot) petition group should be given the same courtesy: 15 minutes, one to five speakers and hear what they’d like to tell us and acknowledge the others in attendance.”

Read the full article in the Greenfield Recorder.

Here’s an explanation of the evening’s expectations, from the Gill-Montague Regional School District Facebook Page:

The school committee has a TFHS mascot review process on its agenda for next Tuesday night but there will be no public forum at that time as no process, nor even the decision to engage in one, has yet to be adopted. If the district goes down this road we will follow a process that makes ample time and opportunity for the full range of perspectives to be heard. Judging from the level of social media activity already occurring it is clear that this topic brings many social, historical, and cultural issues to the surface that deserve fuller consideration than can be achieved through social media. I would like to ask those who hold strong opinions on this issue to act with civility and I would like to encourage those who are asking questions and trying to understand others’ perspectives to continue to model this for us all.

Please respect this request for decorum.  And sign the petition for change here.

Turner’s Fall – A Circle of Ripples


Yesterday I came to this place, the Pukcommeagon, or Puckcommegon, as they say it was called, known today to most as the Green River. Just below the popular municipal swimming area on Nash’s Mill Road, on the west side of the Town of Greenfield (named after the river itself), less happy events transpired a long time ago. Here, on the morning of May 19th, 1676, a stone was cast in the waters of time and the ripples still pulse upon our lives.  At this fording of the river (probably rising much higher in mid-May three-and-a-half centuries ago), the commander of the colonial militia, retreating from his attack on the tribal people gathered at Peskeompskut, met his mortal end. Already a broken and gravely ill man, Capt. William Turner was struck here by pursuing warriors and died shortly thereafter on the western bank.

Gazing upon the lazy flow of the river in mid-September, it seemed an embodiment of the circular sweep of time: now, then, still to come. It is all here, sliding into the distance. A slow meander of hazy water, clear up close and opaque at a remove, sliding through the piercing light and the overhanging shadows. Slipping over the ancient Permian shoulders of fissured red conglomerate; alongside shifting sand shoals marked with the skitterings of four-footeds and long-legged flyers; passing silently beneath roads and walkways, heading southward to the Kwanitekw and great salty Sobakw. Up to the sky and down to the mountains. Water is life, the rivers connect the people. Circles and ripples, silence and murmurs, as above, so below.

My friend Joe Graveline, in speaking about the 1676 massacre at Peskeompskut (known historically as the Falls Fight – just 3 miles to the east), has said “at sunrise on that morning a light went out, on twelve thousand years” of community, in a place of peace and sharing. And so it did, abruptly and summarily. The disruption and confusion still reverberates and confuses those who remain. His observation gave me great pause and made me ponder the consequences and implications; it seems so harsh and final. But now I come away from the banks of the timeless river with another perspective, along the lines of the traditional firekeepers, whose responsibilities are to keep the sacred fire burning and to carry fire to the next place. Glowing embers, a small fragment of the original open flame, are secured in a safe receptacle, protected and nurtured until the next destination is reached. The sustaining flame of life has been hidden in this place but it is still here, held in the land and waters; we can see it if we look in the right direction, in the center.

Last 3 Weeks for Historic Abenaki Clothing at LCMM


The special exhibit “Wearing Our Heritage” offers rare opportunity to see clothing worn by Abenaki men and women of earlier generations. Abenaki scholar and activist Frederick M. Wiseman has gathered original garments and accessories to assemble representative outfits like those worn by Abenaki men and women before 1850 as well as outfits for a man and a woman during in the 1900s through 1920s. The exhibit also includes examples of accessories such as moccasin tops, collars, head bands, needle cases and pouches.

Read the full description on the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum blog.

Ongoing: The Turners Falls Indians Mascot Controversy


The Daily Hampshire Gazette picks up the story.

A division has emerged this fall over whether Turners Falls High School should ditch its Indians mascot, with community members circulating dueling online petitions as a way to garner support and gauge interest on both sides of the argument.

One petition calls for the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee to change the name because of concerns of racist imagery and stereotyping of Native Americans.

Another petition urges the committee to keep the name, saying it is a way to pay homage to the Native American men and women who died as a result of the King Philip’s War. Those in support of changing the name say arguments surrounding the tradition are not enough to keep it.

Sign the petition for change here.

Petition for Change in the Turners Falls Indians Mascot Debate



Image above from Turtleboysports blog, in a post decrying the movement for change. Click note: there are multiple sexually-objectifying ads on this blog.

As the discussion continues surrounding the possible review of the Turners Falls High School’s mascot — currently the Indians — community members have circulated online petitions as a way to garner support and gauge interest on both sides of the argument.

A second petition, this one in support of the Turners Falls High School changing its mascot, was started Sunday morning by those calling for the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee to change it because of concerns of racist imagery and stereotyping of Native Americans. Those in support of changing the name say arguments surrounding the tradition are not enough to keep the name.

Read the latest update in the Greenfield Recorder.

The petition supporting the change can be found here.