I am writing about the continuing controversy surrounding the sports teams in School Administrative District 54 continuing to use the word “Indian” as a nickname (“200 people attend forum about ‘Indians’ mascot in Skowhegan,” Jan. 8). I have lived in Skowhegan since 1989. I own a house in Skowhegan and run a business in Skowhegan. Both of my children graduated from Skowhegan Area High School. I also have mixed Iroquois blood from both sides of my family.

I have followed this drama in the newspaper for the last several years. From beginning to present, those who want the nickname to go away label those who want to keep the name as racists. I have had a problem with that charge from the beginning and still do. To me, a racist would mean that you actually dislike someone of that race. To date, I have never heard anyone at all slam Indians in this town. If the people in Skowhegan don’t like Indians, they’ve done a stunningly good job of hiding it. The prejudice against Indians seems to only exist if you read it in the newspaper. If you stop reading this newspaper, the problem doesn’t exist.

The term “mascot” has been dropped and should have been. The term “Indian” still remains a great offense for many and should not be. The late Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can insult you without your permission.” It seems there has been an awful lot of permission given out on this issue. The “harm” all seems, to me, to be highly postured and insincere.

An honest assessment is that having the name “Indian” represent Skowhegan sports teams could only be meant to be a compliment. The name is most certainly meant to be associated with winning, persevering and achieving. No one would choose “losers” for a sports nickname. What is amiss here is that people are being widely labeled as racists when a simple “thank you” would have done just fine.

Gerald W. Thibault

Skowhegan

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