I attended the recent meeting of the Regional School Unit 54 school board committee where representatives from four Indian tribes of Maine expressed their wish for the Skowhegan Area High School team mascot to be changed. It was interesting to hear the Passamoquoddy language spoken, and to learn that the town’s name actually means “brook trout fishing weir.” By listening to people talk about their own culture, we learn more than we knew before.

Over and over the theme expressed was that using the Indian mascot does not honor native people. Several of those who spoke told of the dismaying experience of explaining the mascot to a young child.

A former student of mine, Sikwani Dana, spoke about the difficulty of growing up as a native in central Maine’s small towns. George Scotomah Neptune, an educator at the Abbe Museum, shared the American Psychology Association’s report on the damage done to children when they see their culture stereotyped by the use of mascots.

If Skowhegan decides to change their team name — and I believe they will — Maine will become the first state to no longer have any native mascot team names. Dirigo!

Lisa Savage


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