After about two years of work by local residents and the Gill Historical Commission, the fate of a possible National Historic District in the Riverside area of town is in the hands of the state. The commission, with support from town government and area residents, recently submitted its nomination to the state Historical Commission. If the state panel approves, the nomination advances to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., for final approval.
Town officials held a public hearing about a historic district in conjunction with the state Historical Society on Tuesday night at the Riverside Municipal Building.
The district encompass much of the Riverside neighborhood, with Riverview Drive, Oak Street, Walnut Street, Myrtle Street, Pine Street and Grove Street included within the boundaries as well as some properties on the other side of French King Highway.
See the full article by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder.
This area at the southern edge of Sokwakik is highly significant for Native heritage and among other things is a subject of the ongoing Falls Fight Battlefield Study Grant. This incredibly productive fishing location drew indigenous people from many different communities for thousands of years. Here and nearby, they would harvest and process the anadromous fish that paused to surmount the falls of Peskeompskut, traded and celebrated, met and married, and shared the Kwanitekw’s gifts in peace. This place still has great power and strong spirit, despite the ravages of industrial exploitation and the ongoing genocidal mindset of settler colonialism. Any action to recognize and support this reality is a welcome beginning.
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):
School committee voted to remove Turners Falls High School ‘Indians’ mascot
Members of a group calling for a change in the Turners Falls High School mascot held a press conference on Monday afternoon announcing their opposition to the nonbinding referendum approved by the Montague Selectboard last week. About 15 people gathered to share the statement. Ferd Wulkan, Edite Cunha and Elyssa Serrilli read the statement.
“We call on the voters of Montague to join us in supporting the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee, as they have dedicated much time and energy in their thorough and thoughtful process on this issue,” the statement said. “This work has been done in a planned and announced process by a democratically elected body. We think that body should be allowed to complete its work and render a timely decision.”
Read the full story by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder
Every morning at Standing Rock protest camp in North Dakota began with prayer, said Anthony Melting Tallow, who visited the site last November. And during the day, everyone was invited to a water ceremony. But during the time of peace and spiritual gatherings, Tallow said, planes and helicopters were constantly circling the site. Across Highway 1806, Tallow recalls generators running 24 hours a day, lighting up a construction site for the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
The environment at Standing Rock was a contrast of two opposites, said Tallow, of Chicopee, who is a member of the Siksika Nation in Alberta, Canada. As he protested the pipeline Wednesday afternoon in Northampton, the Chicopee resident said it was hard to explain the feeling at Standing Rock. “The clearest definition would be love and hate … greed and generosity, right up against each other,” he said.
Read the full story by Caitlin Ashworth in the Greenfield Recorder.
Yesterday, Miranda Davis at the Greenfield Recorder picked up the story of Massachusetts bill SD.1119, An Act to Prohibit the Use of Native American Mascots by Public Schools in the Commonwealth. The introduction of this bill directly impacts the local debate in Turners Falls about the effects of continued use of the “Indians” mascot/logo.
Excerpt: The bill, introduced Thursday, was filed “by request” by Sen. Barbara L’Italian, a Democrat representing the 2nd Essex and Middlesex district. According to L’Italian’s spokeswoman Emma Friend, the bill was requested by a resident of Tewksbury, where the high school’s mascot is the Redmen. If passed, the bill would affect the ongoing debate in Montague over whether Turners Falls High School should keep its current mascot, the Indians.
Another story on the same topic was published by NECN, an NBC affiliate out of Boston, MA.
Excerpt: The Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness said change is long overdue. “Mascots keep us trapped in a false narrative and don’t show context or how we have evolved over 500 years,” said Claudia Fox Tree. “The problem is that we aren’t able to share our own story in our own voices.”
CBS local affiliate WBZ Channel 4 in Boston also carried the announcement. From that report:
A Tewksbury resident wants state lawmakers to ban the use of Native American symbols and logos at public schools. After losing a battle to change Tewksbury High School’s mascot from the Redmen, Linda Thomas is now hoping legislators will vote to get rid of Native American logos at all public schools for good. Last year, the Tewksbury School Committee voted 4-1 to keep their mascot, which some say pays tribute to the town’s Native American heritage. “This is really not a town issue, this is a state issue,” Thomas said.
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.
Discussion at Thursday’s educational mascot forum became heated as School Committee members responded to concerns and accusations that they had already decided how to vote concerning the mascot issue. Members of the public were also upset that the board is not holding a referendum.
The event was the final scheduled educational forum on the mascot issue, and covered the perspective of alumni who want to keep the mascot speaking. Ronald LaRoche who graduated in 1947 and Jeff Singleton, who is not an alumni of the school, both spoke.
LaRoche discussed the tradition of the school and the mascot while Singleton said he didn’t like the rhetoric of the side who does not want to keep the mascot, noting specifically that he felt the comparisons to other race-based issues, like the Holocaust or slavery in America, are not appropriate for the debate.
Read the full report by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder.