Wiscasset’s selectman will once again have to wrestle with whether a word that Native Americans and many others find offensive should be the name of a private town road.

Because of an extension of 911 service, last month residents of a Wiscasset road had to come up with a name for it and their top choice was Redskin’s Drive. The name, they said, referred to the former high school mascot, which was changed to Wolverines in 2011, when Wiscasset became part of a larger school district because of consolidation.

Despite suggestions that the name is offensive, the town’s selectmen voted 3-1, with one abstention, to go with the residents’ choice.

But this past week, three residents of the road asked the selectmen to change the name again, this time to Micmac Drive, after a tribe of Native Americans in northern Maine and eastern Canada. According to the Lincoln County News, the residents said in a letter to the selectmen that they wanted the name changed to avoid further conflict and to honor Native Americans.

The Portland Press Herald was unable to obtain a copy of the letter, but two selectmen confirmed its contents. Attempts Friday to reach the residents who signed the letter were unsuccessful.

The item is expected to be on the selectmen’s Tuesday, Oct. 7, agenda, but one selectman said his initial reaction is to leave the name as it is, although he wants to talk to residents of the road before making a final decision.

“I’m not for changing it, myself,” said Bill Barnes, one of the three who approved the name “Redskin’s” in August. “I have nothing against the Indians. They’re probably the best people ever in this country” and helped early European settlers survive.

But he sees nothing wrong with the name.

“I don’t find it offensive,” he said and noted that only one person told him after the vote that she thought the name wasn’t appropriate.

Earlier this month, Kirk E. Francis, chief of the Penobscot Nation, wrote the selectmen to explain that the word derives from the practice of paying a bounty for killing Native Americans. To collect the bounty, Francis said, white settlers would turn in a scalp, called a redskin.

“The history and origin of this word is a particularly painful one for the Wabanaki,” Francis wrote, adding that derogatory names contribute to the social ills facing many Native Americans.

Francis asked the selectmen to reverse their decision on the road’s name.

Selectman Ben Rines said that, as the person who made the motion to adopt “Redskin’s Drive” as the name last month, he’s happy to change it if that’s what the residents of the road want.

He said the issue isn’t a big one in town, but added that he’s received support for his vote to adopt the name.

“Whenever I saw anybody, I’d get a high-five or an ‘It’s about time,'” Rines said.

Most people in town, he said, relate the road’s name to the former sports mascot, rather than anything derogatory to Native Americans.

“I think of it as part of my school days,” he said. “I’ve never heard it used offensively and wouldn’t put up with it.”

But, Rines said, it might be best to move on.

“Hopefully, with this, it will be behind us,” he said.

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