I represent the Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy, Quakers throughout the state who advocate for social justice and for right relationships with our Wabanaki neighbors.

I was one of many at a recent Skowhegan-based district school board forum who were urging the board to discontinue the “Indian” mascot (“200 people attend forum about ‘Indians’ mascot in Skowhegan,” Jan. 8).

School board members serve as educators and role models in their community by virtue of their words and deeds. As parents and educators, what do we teach our young people, starting at home when they are toddlers and then in preschool and kindergarten, about how to treat other people? Respect others; listen; ask permission; don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.

The Wabanaki are living, breathing, present-day people who are our neighbors. But a mascot is an abstraction, an oversimplified image. And when we make a mascot out of “Indians” we make it easy to relate to the real people as stereotypes. We give our children an inaccurate, outdated and damaging image.

The Wabanaki are asking to be treated as we would treat any other person. Ignoring their request that they not be made into a mascot violates the rules we teach our own children.

Shirley Hager


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