I have been following the multiple articles and letters regarding the conflicts of having school teams and mascots representing American Indians (“200 people attend forum about ‘Indians’ mascot in Skowhegan,” Jan.8).

I have lived in Maine for 12 years, but am originally from Rochester, New York. The northern suburb I was raised and educated in was marked with indigenous Indian jargon. The suburb is Irondequoit, and I attended Iroquois Middle School and West Irondequoit High School, with our students and community pride represented as the Irondequoit Indians. I was a devout high school team supporter; many of my friends were cheerleaders. I didn’t make the cheerleading team, so they gave me the role of the Irondequoit (Indian) mascot. I had kept my Blue Bird/Camp Fire Girl Indian regalia dress from childhood, which was laced with beads that you had to earn. One year as mascot, I led the fall homecoming parade in my Indian garb and riding a borrowed horse.

In 2002, Irondequoit High School retired the Indian mascot, citing its insensitivity. To this day it is still disappointing that my beloved alma mater mascot has been shelved. When I attended my 40th reunion, the class of 1975 had sweatshirts made with our Indian logo and “2015 — 40 years of Indians Forever.” Amen.

The recent column from Nicole LaChapelle mentioned an interesting item from the Native American Guardians Association showing 95 percent support keeping Native names and images in schools (“Maine Compass: Embrace ‘Indians’ nickname to remember our past,” Jan. 18). A “mascot” is a person, animal or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure, especially to bring them good luck. We were always and forever proud Indians; it was never used out of disrespect.

If this is the new norm and protocol, why aren’t the Chiefs, the Redskins and the Indians following suit?

Nancy W. Godfrey

Winthrop

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