MA Bill Would Ban Native American School Mascots

TF mascot balloon

Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing whether to ban the use of Native American mascots in public schools — a proposal that drew strong opinions at a public hearing Tuesday. The push comes after the town of Tewksbury rebuffed efforts to change the name of its high school mascot, the Redmen — and even as the town of Montague continues to debate its school committee decision to remove its long-time Indians mascot.

Linda Thomas has children in the first and fourth grades in Tewksbury and said she doesn’t want to signal that “it’s OK to use these images and memes and logos.” “The name has become so integrated and repeated that the meaning is lost,” she said. “People using it don’t intend to cause harm, but the impact is harmful and Native Americans have been saying this now for decades.”

Thomas added it’s hard to imagine any other racial group being used as a mascot.

Read the full story in the Greenfield Recorder.

Shutesbury, MA Warrant Initiative to Protect Native Sites

shutesbury ma town seal

Development pressures that could compromise sacred and ceremonial American Indian sites are prompting concerned residents to ask annual Town Meeting to mandate better protections and more thorough studies of Shutesbury land.

The petition, known as the “Resolution to Preserve Native American Historical Sites and Traditional Cultural Properties, Including Ceremonial Stone Landscapes,” was recently submitted for inclusion on the May 6 warrant by Friends of Shutesbury and the Oso:ah Foundation. Oso:ah stands for “planting a tree in the name of peace.”

James Schilling-Cachat of Leverett Road, a spokesman for the groups, said the article is important because the town is rich in sacred stone sites, yet they are at risk because little has been done to catalog them.

Read the full article by Scott Merzbach in the Greenfield Recorder.

Brattleboro Stands for Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Town Meeting

Brattlebor RTM 2017 Radder Reformer

Changing the name in which the town celebrates Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day was met with unanimous support at Representative Town Meeting at Brattleboro Area Middle School, where the town’s budget was amended to include $10,000 for an organization that would pay an energy coordinator and a resolution was adopted to voice concerns about President Donald Trump.

“There’s a growing awareness that our national narrative about the discovering of America by Columbus is inaccurate,” Town Meeting member Dr. Jessica Dolan said, adding that the change “affords us the opportunity to respect the Abenaki Confederation and Indigenous People in general on whose land we live.”

That also allows for educational experiences in local classes and the Brooks Memorial Library, she said. The article warned at the meeting had been petitioned by Rich Holschuh, a Brattleboro resident and member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.

Town Meeting member Elizabeth McLoughlin said she understood Columbus Day had been established as an Italian American holiday and as an Italian American, she fully supported the name change.

“I broadly support this change,” said Town Meeting member Margaret Atkinson. “I would just like to caution us, as people who inhabit now the whitest state in the nation, that because we recognize history this way, the ongoing issues for Indigenous People are not solved just because folks have a day. I would just ask this body to seek other ways they themselves could help in real ways to help this country at least look at native people now; what they need now and what can we can do today for the people here today? Especially the kids.”

See the original article by Chris Mays in the Brattleboro Reformer. Photo by Kristopher Radder.

Brattleboro Adopts Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Yesterday, Brattleboro’s Representative Town Meeting adopted Article 22, “…to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day.” After a lengthy and thoughtful discussion, Moderator Lawrin Crispe called the question and it passed unanimously. Action on the article can be found in the Brattleboro Community TV footage at 7:49:15. Special thanks to my friend and fellow advocate Dr. Jess Dolan for her considerate testimony, along with other Members who offered backing.

Kchi wliwni – great thanks to everyone for your support, assistance, and conviction in bringing this positive change to our community. I hope we can look forward to growing awareness of a more truthful and restorative story, one that benefits all.

#ReclaimingWantastegok #decolonization

Peace.

Brattleboro Vote on Indigenous Peoples’ Day Approaches

Brattleboro’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) held its pre-convening informational evening on March 15, 2017 at Academy School in West Brattleboro, VT. The Official Warning (agenda) was read and discussed, and questions and opinions were aired in preparation for action on Saturday, March 25th at the same venue, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The final item on the Warning, Article 22, asked “Shall the Town of Brattleboro advise the Selectboard to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day?” This author, sponsor of the petitioned article, was present to speak in support of the measure; it appeared to be well-received that evening (testimony viewed at 1:18:15 in the video from Brattleboro Community TV).

Olga Peters, for  Windham County’s The Commons weekly, put together an article in review of the Informational Meeting and cited the  upcoming action on Article 22:

“The penultimate meeting article will ask members to advise the Selectboard to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This would replace “Columbus Day” on the town calendar.

Rich Holschuh, who led the petition drive, spoke on the article, noting that changing the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a nationwide movement. “Because its time has come,” he said. “Brattleboro can provide a great deal of leadership in the state because this is where colonization in the state began, in 1724 at Fort Dummer.”

According to Holschuh, Marlboro was the first town in Vermont to formally change the second Monday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Amherst, Mass., has also made the change.”

And, finally, the Brattleboro Reformer issued a full editorial in support of the measure on Friday, March 24, 2017, the day before the RTM meeting. Full text here. An excerpt below:

Today, March 25, Brattleboro will hold its annual Representative Town Meeting. While the reps will have some meaty issues to weigh and decide on, they will also be discussing whether the town should rename Columbus Day — which falls this year on Oct. 9 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Understanding the kind, compassionate, intelligent and literate people who volunteer to be meeting reps, we believe approval of Article 22, which calls upon the Select Board to do away with Columbus Day, is a given. Last October, the Select Board decided not to put the question on the annual Representative Town Meeting warning without a properly authorized petition.

Now that the matter is officially on the ballot, meeting reps can approve it and the new Select Board, which will be sworn in on March 27, will have the opportunity to do the right thing.

Wabanaki Tribes Educate Maine Lawmakers on Sovereign Rights

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Chiefs and Tribal leaders from each of the federally recognized Wabanaki Tribes gathered at the State House Thursday. They participated in a legislative briefing by the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. Lawmakers in Augusta heard from representatives of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and the Penobscot Indian Nation.

They discussed their Tribes’ frustrations with the Federal Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980. Tribe members tell us this act was meant to acknowledge Wabanaki sovereignty but over the years has been somewhat lost in translation.

“There’s a lot of things that get affected by decisions that are made across the state, and when those decisions get made, they affect everybody, including the tribes. We’re a sovereign nation and we want to be treated as a sovereign nation. And we just want to be left alone. We’re not asking anybody for anything. We never have. We’ve just had to come to this session many times in the state house because that’s what’s required by the act. But there’s not mutual understanding- I guess you could say- about what that act means,” said Chief William Nicholas, Passamaquoddy Tribe.

“The biggest thing that affects the Aroostook Band of Micmacs is that we didn’t have a seat at the table. So the Micmacs are being held to an agreement that we weren’t a party to. It has to deal with due process and we didn’t get our due process,” said Chief Edward Peter Paul, Aroostook Band of Micmacs.

Their hope is to educate lawmakers and the public on the how sovereign rights of these tribes have been largely pushed aside and ignored.

Original article on WABI Channel 5.

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.