The Wells school committee may not be accustomed to hearing cheers, but it deserves some for doing the right thing regarding the school mascot.

The Wells Warriors sports teams will no longer be represented by a drawing of an American Indian, and the school will no longer use the “Warrior head” logo or any other Indian-style imagery. The decision puts to rest the controversy that came from being one of the last few schools in Maine to have an Indian mascot.

The school committee vote was unanimous, but if the decision had been an easy one, it probably would have been made years ago, when some other Maine high schools parted with their mascots. Every time the issue had been considered in the past, people in the community said they didn’t mean any harm in following a school tradition that connected generations of athletes and fans.

Even now, some Wells residents still feel that because they meant no offense, none should have been taken.

But the school committee wisely recognized that offense is always in the eyes of the beholder. Once you’ve been told that your well-intentioned gesture is insulting, you can either stop doing it or continue to offend — only now you would be hurtful on purpose. The explanation that you meant no harm is no longer workable after people tell you they are being harmed.

Wells fans will probably find out what people in other school districts have learned. It’s not that big a deal.

In a few years, there won’t be any students in the high school who have played under the Indian logo. As they found in Scarborough, Sanford, Old Town and Wiscasset, there is a lot more that binds a community together than a mascot drawing.

The same has been true in the places where roads, islands and even a mountain were stripped of racially offensive names that had been attached to them at a time in the distant past when standards of acceptable behavior were different.

Today, Skowhegan is the only Maine high school in the state with an offensive nickname and logo. The school board there has dealt with this issue in the past, and it probably will be forced to revisit it in the future.

Hopefully, they will look to Wells and see that there is no reason to keep on insulting native Americans, especially when it’s not intentional. Until then, we applaud Wells officials for doing the right thing.

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