As a graduate of Skowhegan High School, retired teacher of School Administrative District 54, and parent educational professional who worked at Universtiy of Maine Cooperative Extension in Somerset County, I feel compelled to weigh in on the school mascot controversy. In my opinion, people are not mascots and to use them as such is disrespectful, degrading and dehumanizing.

We can learn from history. Mary R. Calvert’s book “Dawn over the Kennebec” documents that for centuries Native Americans have been mistreated, forced off their native land, relocated onto reservations, massacred and scalped for a bounty. “Dawnland,” a Maine Public documentary, shows that in the 1900s, the U.S. Department of Human Resources unjustly removed Native American children from their families and placed them in boarding schools, orphanages and white foster homes. The Maine-Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission has given those victims an opportunity to share their stories and record their testimony on film in order to work toward healing and reconciliation.

Over the last several decades, we have been making progress in Maine, but it has been a long time coming, and we still have work to do.

I have had the pleasure and privilege of getting to know many people — friends and acquaintances in Maine and from my travels, and guests staying at my lodging business over the past 30 years — who represent a wide variety of races and cultures from all over the country and abroad. I speak out, because I can’t imagine that even one of them would want to represent a sports team as a mascot.

I speak out because I would love to live in a community that accepts and teaches diversity, respects all people as equals, and provides positive role models for our children.

Mary L. Cayford


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