The Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Houlton Band of Maliseets and the Micmacs are, as a factual matter, four federally recognized, sovereign entities.

They have officially requested the School Administrative District 54 board of directors to remove the word “Indian” from its symbology.  The board, beyond being a mere group of individuals, is itself a governmental entity and should act responsibly in that role.

While a few individuals professing Native American bloodlines have expressed preference that the symbology be kept, they in fact only represent their own personal opinions.  This includes Native American Guardian Association, which is at best a rather murky political entity and does not have a protective or sovereign role to play in regards to Natives or their rights (“National group defends ‘Indians’ name, meets with Skowhegan supporters,” Feb. 24).

Contrarily, the governing bodies of the four sovereign tribes noted above, having as they do the legal right to represent the interests of the larger diaspora of their members, have engaged in a deliberative process and arrived at a conclusion — a conclusion mind you which is based on a great deal of unrefuted scientific evidence that the use of “Indian” symbology, whether termed as a mascot or otherwise, is damaging to their members.  They have appointed official ambassadors to present this request.  They and others have testified to and presented strong evidence showing psychological and other damage to Native children, and indeed to non-Natives, stemming from the use of this symbology.  Any such damage has long-term implications, as it imposes a cost on all of society.

Arguments about “heritage” are totally unavailing.  No one is going to take away anyone’s banners, trophies or memories. No one will be erasing yearbooks.

When the class of 2019, perhaps the last class of “Indians,” celebrates their 50th reunion in 2069, they’ll still have all these trappings of “heritage,” but they’ll be focused on showing each other photos of grandchildren instead.

 

Ernie Hilton

Starks


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