I see the Skowhegan school officials don’t want to meet with Maine tribal representatives concerning the use of the word “Indian” as a school mascot. Their excuse: The matter should go directly to the whole community. This is a cop-out.

Before any town meeting is called, there should be multiple meetings of department heads, town boards and a few stakeholders. This action sets the ground work for a productive town meeting. Do Maine’s indigenous people not deserve the same respect as the majority white residents?

As for use of the word “Indian” as a mascot: Already there are Maine school teams with the names Bulldog, Panther, Cobra, Bears, Cougars, Eagles, Bobcats and Tigers — just to name a few. This puts the native Americans in the same category as animals.

I assure you, I have known many indigenous people, not only from the United States, but also from all over the world. They are not animals. If the white man had the same respect for animals as do the Indians, this might not be so bad. Unfortunately, this is not so.

When I worked at Madison Paper, all employees were required to take mini-courses to learn just what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace. Certainly there were strict guidelines that covered many acts, or, in some instances, harassment might include borderline language if it offended someone. The potential offender was not to be the judge as to whether or not it was harassment.

Shouldn’t this standard be applied to Indians, as well? In the name of fairness, respect and justice, I believe it should. Our ancestors took their land. Must we now take their dignity?

Peter Sirois, Madison

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