I lived in Skowhegan in the mid 1980s, working as a staff writer for the Morning Sentinel. I have warm feelings for the place and its people. Before that job, I worked for more than five years with Maine’s Indian tribes, editing their intertribal newspaper. I am forever grateful for that experience, and for the welcome I received as a non-Native person.

I had a lot to learn. I think I’ll always have a lot to learn. One of the hardest lessons for me is to step out of my own opinions and assumptions and listen to another point of view, a different take on who we are, how we see others.

The role of schools in our society is important. We need to teach the truth, that we didn’t just “settle” New England; we nearly wiped out Native Americans and took their land.

I have had to let go of prejudices and stereotypes about Native Americans. Skowhegan, you can do this too. You can listen, learn, and let go of the Indians mascot (“Sisters taking up Indian mascot issue with Skowhegan school board,” Nov. 20).

Follow the enlightened lead of other Maine schools that have abandoned offensive symbols of racial stereotyping. Retiring the mascot is something Skowhegan could be very proud of. Such a move would not detract whatsoever from your fine sports program and winning teams. It would enhance your reputation.

Imagine if the high school team was called the Skowhegan Negroes, with a black slave as mascot? Unacceptable, degrading and racist. Think about that.

Instead of hanging onto the Indian mascot, you could invite Native Americans to visit your schools and engage with students so they are exposed to an honest and enlightening experience of Native culture and traditions. Imagine the possibilities.

And how about the Skowhegan River Drivers?

Steve Cartwright

Tenants Harbor

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