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

 

WMUR’s Chronicle: Liz Charlebois on Standing Rock resistance

Liz Greene Charlebois, recent chair of the New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs (NHCNNA), appeared on last night’s Chronicle by WMUR, reflecting on the Standing Rock resistance. Thank you Liz! At about 1 minute in… #NoDAPL #Abenaki

Video and transcript here.

Video: Final Alumni-centric Turners Falls Mascot Forum

Video from Montague Community Television of the final (for now) community forum to share insights concerning the debate about the athletic mascot/logo at Turners Falls High School in the Gill-Montague (MA) Regional School District.

Teach the Children Well

lucy-cannon-neel-at-benson-village-school

Lucy Cannon Neel, Chairperson of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs presented at the Benson Village School on  December 21, 2016. Lucy shared about the history and continued presence of Native Americans in what is now the state of Vermont. The students experienced traditional cultural materials as well; they were even able to drum (video below)!

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lucy-presents-at-benson-school

Turners Falls Indians: Chopping the Chop Understood by Most

Op-Ed in the Greenfield Recorder Dec. 16, 2016. Full column here.

Trying to sort out the issues, let alone the feelings, associated with Gill-Montague Regional School District’s “Indians” mascot can be challenging.But the picture should be clearer with respect to the “Tomahawk Chop” — a way cheerleaders and pep band charged up the football team’s fans, until the School Committee banned the practice in 2009, that is.

The School Committee at that time concluded correctly that the gesture, however innocently employed, was offensive to Native Americans. The committee chose to ban the practice, specifically citing the band and cheerleaders in the minutes of the meeting, although the discussion preceding the vote implied the ban would apply to all school-sponsored groups.

That was well and good, and concern over the chop faded. But, unfortunately, school officials never codified the school board vote into a written policy that was spelled out in the student handbook or athletic codes. So, many in the community became confused and upset when their football team was criticized for using the chop at the Thanksgiving Day game — for violating a policy that was actually hard to find.

***

The last few words of the column could be taken as an insightful Freudian slip: “…although we think that should remain a settled issue.”

Teaching Moment for Turners Falls Community

An editorial in the 12.08.2016 Greenfield Recorder, following the Thanksgiving game incidents. Full op-ed here.

As the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee continues to work toward a decision on whether to continue using Indians as its team nickname, a teaching moment has emerged from the recent Thanksgiving Day football game.

Since the fall, the School Committee has been taking steps to guide its decision— from airing public sentiment at hearings to gathering relevant historical and cultural information from local experts.

While this process is an important one, it has also provided a public stage for conflict between those who see the Indians nickname evoking respect and school pride and others who say it is hurtful and insensitive to Native Americans. Into this heated but generally civil debate, a headdress and the “Tomahawk Chop” made an appearance during the game between Turners Falls and longtime rival, Greenfield.

Kahsatstenhsera: Indigenous Resistance to Tar Sands Pipelines

A 2013 film from submedia.tv, featuring stories from several First Nations bringing indigenous resistance to the construction of fossil fuel pipelines. Timely and ongoing, a continuation of 500 years of colonialism…

The “Line 9″ and “Energy East” pipelines threaten to bring tar sands “crude” from Alberta for export through ports in the Atlantic. These pipelines will traverse through many Indigenous communities and natural areas, threatening not only the health of the land but the sovereignty of these territories and their peoples. We have teamed up with Indigenous organizer Amanda Lickers to produce a Kahsatstenhsera: Indigenous Resistance to Tar Sands Pipelines. This video will focuses on Indigenous resistance and seeks to build capacity in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities by providing an educational and accessible resource to build awareness across communities. Featuring stories and perspectives from land defenders in Athabasca Chipewyan, Aamjiwnaang, Six Nations of the Grand River, Kanehsatà:ke, and Elsipogtog First Nations, this video will not only educates the public on the issues being faced by pipeline construction and expansion, but showcases Indigenous resistance and provide an anti-colonial lens for understanding environmental destruction.