SKOWHEGAN — Two rallies are scheduled for today — Columbus Day — sparked by the controversy over Skowhegan Area High School’s Indians mascot and nickname.

At 1 p.m. at Lake George Regional Park, Indigenous Peoples Day will be recognized to counter the federal observance of Columbus Day.

Also today the Skowhegan Indian Pride group has scheduled a rally to celebrate their history as “Skowhegan Indians,” the nickname and mascot of Skowhegan High School sports teams. That rally is set for 4 p.m. in front of the Skowhegan Indian sculpture by Maine artist Bernard Langlais.

The Skowhegan Indian Pride rally will feature merchandise to be given away in a raffle. Names will be entered for the drawings by bringing nonperishable food items for the local soup kitchen and the local animal shelter.

The two rallies are the latest salvos in the controvery over the school’s nickname — the last school in the state to have a name considered offensive to American Indians.

Members of Maine’s Indian tribes and others said last month they were insulted the school was holding the rally on Columbus Day, a polarizing federal holiday Native Americans say is a cutting reminder of their ancestors’ slaughter by Europeans that instead should celebrate indigenous people.

Supporters of the high school mascot said that it was simply a convenient day to have the rally.

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