Turners Indian Advocate Suggests Keeping Logo with Modifications

William Turner Monument Gill MA

An unfortunate turn of events.

At Tuesday night’s Gill-Montague School Committee meeting, Chris Pinardi unveiled a plan to involve Native American tribes and groups in a process that would allow the school to keep its previous mascot, the Indian, while adjusting the mascot to create an accurate and respectful representation.

Pinardi, who is a graduate of the school and has been running a group in support of retaining the former mascot, spoke at the beginning of the meeting and delivered a packet with letters from tribal leaders from Vermont and Lowell. He asked the district to consider keeping the name while adjusting the representation with assistance from the tribes.

Pinardi asked the board to listen with an open mind and consider suspending the current process to select a new mascot.“I respectfully request that the logo process be tabled and this process be explored fully,” he said.

The committee discussed the issue later in the evening, making no clear decision on the issue, and opting to delay discussion of the mascot selection process because of how late it was in the night.

Read the full article by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder.

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Bill In Massachusetts Seeks to Ban Native American Mascots

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From an article in Indian Country Today (full text).

A bill filed in Massachusetts last week could put an end to the use of Native American mascots at public schools in the state. Acting on behalf of her constituents, State Senator Barbara L’Italien filed a bill that takes direct aim at Native American caricatures, disparaging terms, and references, The Boston Globe reported.

Don’t Settle – Watch This One

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Montana, like Vermont, has one Representative in the U.S. House. His name is Ryan Kinke. A single termer, he happens to be President Trump’s nomination for Secretary of the Interior, which entails supervision of a great deal of “public” lands, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (for what that is worth). Although nominated in mid-December, well before Trump was inaugurated, his confirmation has been held up during this troubling transition, along with many others. The word is that the final hearings won’t be held until late February or early March.

He is being touted by many, even those across the aisle, as “not so bad” – this in comparison, it would seem, to the balance of the Administration’s inner cadre. He is a devoted sportsman, a “Teddy Roosevelt” conservationist, a westerner among westerners. He has sworn up and down that he does not believe in privatizing public lands, or ceding Federal responsibility for the same to State or local oversight. Yet at the beginning of the 2017 Congressional session in January, on one of his first and only floor votes, he seemingly reversed his publicly stated position, and voted to approve a measure which would have removed Federal budgetary accountability from the transfer of public lands. Having shown his hand and been called out on it, he was (it would seem) quietly asked to refrain by the Administration. Immediately thereafter, he stopped participating in House actions and has not voted since – for a month and a half – lest he incur further less-than-positive reaction before confirmation.

This speaks volumes. Yes, his abstention or absence leaves Montana without its sole voice in the House, an effect that has drawn complaint from its constituents. True, he has drawn cautious praise from several local tribes because of his support of their causes. But having been chosen by the current administration, and already demonstrated his willingness to toe the ideological line, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, it would be well to beware. The League of Conservation Voters, whose mission it is to pay attention, gives him a 3% career approval rating on votes that matter. Just because this fellow likes to go hunting with Donald Trump’s sons does not make him a friend of the Land. Or anyone, by extension. This will become clear, after he is approved by those who are convinced, by juxtaposition, that “he is not so bad.” The current reality will manifest and it will not be kind. Or caring. Or respectful. To our Mother, and by extension, to her Children.

 

Gill-Montague Superintendent’s Thoughts Regarding the Turners Falls Mascot

Remarks made by Superintendent Michael Sullivan on Feb. 14, 2017, when the GMRSD School Committee voted 6-3 to change the Indians mascot/logo, after a contentious but thorough examination of the issue. Full quote below:

Before I share my thoughts about the logo/nickname situation I would like to thank the school committee for having the courage to address this issue, knowing in advance that it would be controversial. The integrity and earnestness with which you have undertaken this process is admirable and I am proud to serve you. It also needs to be said that given your knowledge of the district’s communities combined with the scores of hours you have put into listening to citizens and scholars and studying this matter, no one is better equipped and poised to make decisions about it than you are.

In terms of sharing my perspective on the “TFHS Indians”, I would start by saying there is no doubt that the “Indian” is a symbol of tradition and pride to many, if not most, of the adult members of the district’s communities and we now know that most of our students feel similarly. We also know that those who support the “Indian” have no ill intent towards Native Americans. But, because they bear no ill will, many supporters of the nickname and logo, particularly students, continue to ask “where is the harm in it?”

As the district’s educational leader I believe we need to help our students understand that there is harm in the status quo. On average, each year, three of our students are Native American and these students deserve and are afforded the same civil rights protections enjoyed by all students. According to our policies, these rights include learning in an environment free from conduct, symbols, and language that create a hostile, humiliating, intimidating, or offensive educational environment.

Over the last several months we have heard from over 50 area Native Americans, both at forums and in writing, who find the “Indian” to be offensive, humiliating, and harmful. These sentiments have been the clear consensus view of the Native American community in our region. We have also learned that organizations with expertise in the social sciences have condemned the use of Indian mascots as harmful and/or in violation of students’ civil rights. These include the American Psychological Association, the American Anthropological Association, the American Sociological Association, as well as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Our review process has shown that there is widespread interest in having students learn more about local history and Native American cultures. This is commendable and will be acted upon. But this will not be enough. Our review process has also revealed that Native American mascots have helped legitimize and perpetuate harmful racial stereotypes and that these symbols exist within a context of historical oppression against indigenous people, including an act of tragic violence that occurred right in this community, only to be followed by centuries of ongoing assault, subjugation, and dispossession. Understood in this context it is logical to see the injustice of appropriating a name and culture that is not ours to take and shape as we please. Indians are not like cowboys or Vikings. They are cultures of real people, our neighbors, and it is inappropriate to treat them or any racial, ethnic, religious, or gender group in ways that perpetuate and legitimize stereotypes.

Part of the mission of all public schools is to teach students to think critically and to equip them to live in a multi-ethnic and complex world, which includes learning to recognize and dispel prejudices and stereotypes. Our review process has made clear we have much work to do to advance all facets of students’ multicultural learning; from thinking critically about history, to learning to see events from multiple perspectives, to understanding the nature of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression.

Many of our students have difficulty understanding this perspective and instead fall back on their honestly held belief that where no offense is intended, no problem exists. We have an obligation, as a public school system, to help our students grow beyond this line of reasoning, an aspiration clearly advanced by the district’s core values of empathy and continuous learning and it core belief that public education is the primary means we have for cultivating democracy and achieving social justice.

In my opinion there is no way to retain the name “Indians” that would not continue to present a civil rights problem, a pedagogical mixed message, and a misalignment with our mission and core values. That we did not understand these things in the past need not be anyone’s fault, but if we do not act upon what we understand now it will be a lost opportunity to be our best selves.

Gill-Montague Board Votes 6-3 to Remove Turners Falls Indian Mascot

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The Gill-Montague Regional School Committee has voted to change the Turners Falls High School mascot from the “Indians” in a 6-3 vote on Tuesday night.

About 70 were in the crowd of the auditorium as the five-month debate came to an unanticipated close when the School Committee voted to change after an hour of discussion on the issue.

The School Committee was partially through a process to review the mascot that they discontinued last meeting. Those who advocated for the vote said it was because the process had become overwhelmingly divisive in the towns and schools.

Read the full report by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder!

Video coverage of the School Committee meeting from Montague Community Television:

More coverage (some duplicate wire services):

http://www.westernmassnews.com/story/34506389/turners-falls-vote-to-change-high-schools-indian-mascot

School committee voted to remove Turners Falls High School ‘Indians’ mascot

http://www.dailyprogress.com/massachusetts-school-board-dumps-native-american-mascot/article_675ca1ec-b904-5666-acf9-da02b690c20e.html

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/turners_falls_high_school_to_s.html

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/02/massachusetts_school_board_dumps_native_american_mascot

https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2017/02/15/massachusetts-school-board-dumps-native-american-mascot

 

Nipmucs Call for End of Native American Mascots

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Nipmuc Nation, a state-acknowledged Native American tribal government, seated in Grafton, is formally calling for the end of sports team mascots after a state Senate bill was filed last week to do the same.

If passed into law, Senate docket 1119 would force Grafton High School (and dozens of other public school districts) to change their long-held mascot of a Native American in headgear and their team name — the Indians.

The Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council released a September 2016 memo to The Grafton News after a request made for a comment on the bill. In it, they unanimously voted that any and all sports mascots depicting native people is tied to the history of genocide in this country against their people.

Read the full story by Richard price in The Grafton News.

Op-Ed: Talks on Turners Falls Mascot Need Next Step

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We salute school leaders for providing different perspectives on the continued use of the Indians mascot at Turners Falls High School and giving the public opportunities to comment on the issue. But now, the Gill-Montague Regional School District is at juncture.

The committee needs to move into the decision phase of an exhaustive exploration. The committee has two paths: either a straight board vote on keeping the Indians name or putting the question to a district-wide referendum with a pledge to use that outcome to guide the decision.

We don’t, however, think there is a need to seek out a speaker who represents a Native American perspective supporting the use of Indians or other imagery or mascots.

Read the full Greenfield Recorder op-ed for January 17, 2017.