Indian Mascots in the State of Maine: Skowhegan, the last one standing.

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Photo courtesy of Maulian Dana Smith

Over the last few decades of school athletics in our state there have been many “Indian” team mascots that have used derogatory imagery and words.  Indians, Redskins, Braves, Warriors, and others were once commonplace in many communities.  Over time, most have abandoned these racist traditions one by one in favor of new mascots that truly reflect their pride in their school and communities. Today, we are left with one high school that hangs on to their Indian mascot, flying in the face of positive social advancement.

The Skowhegan Area High School persists in racially charged mascot usage with their mascot, “Indians.”  They have consulted with a diverse panel of Wabanaki people from every tribe in Maine and we sent a clear message: if you want to honor us and our ancestors, you will change the mascot.  Instead, they voted by a slim margin to keep the mascot.

Both sides continue their efforts to find a resolution.  The Notyourmascot Maine Chapter has held rallies for the cause, engaged in public speaking, and written editorials. We also keep our efforts up behind the scenes to pressure state agencies and boards in hopes that a higher power can force a change for the good of all of our state.  Keeping the mascot means that institutionalized racism can be validated and protected in 2016, and that is unacceptable.

The debate has been ugly at times and the group “Skowhegan Indian Pride” has presented many insensitive and outright racist online posts and in-person events, ranging from an old piece of paraphernalia called a “scalp towel” to holding a rally for “Indian Pride” on Columbus Day.

The dust will settle when the mascot is gone.  For now, we keep up the work to change it.

-Maulian Dana Smith, Penobscot

notyourmascot-maulian

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Updates

Skowhegan man charged in harassing calls against former Penobscot chief

On a daily basis, Wabanaki people from every nation are taking action to address the ongoing impacts of colonization. They are fighting to preserve their sovereignty, to protect their environment and resources, to ensure the well-being of future generations, and to keep their culture and languages strong. Many times, coverage in the general media presents a very colonized and biased perspective on these critical current issues. In this section, we invite you to hear the stories of Wabanaki activists, culture keepers, and newsmakers from their own perspectives.

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