A group of about 50 Skowhegan residents rallied on Sunday morning as they gathered signatures for a petition to force the local school board consider reviving the “Indians” nickname.
Todd Smith, a member of the SAD 54 school board who voted against ditching the “Indians” name for the high school sports teams, told the Waterville Morning Sentinel that people feel they their voices haven’t been “represented” in the school board’s decision.
The debate over Skowhegan’s use of “Indians” for its sports teams has sparked spirited debate in the central Maine town and across the state as schools one by one began ditching Native American-themed team names and mascots seen by some as racist and insulting toward Maine’s tribes. Skowhegan was the last school in Maine to ditch its Native American imagery.
Maulian Dana, the Penobscot Nation ambassador, was quoted in the Morning Sentinel as saying of the Skowhegan rally that “it’s sad they can’t embrace positive change and hope they can rally all their community pride for good things instead eventually.”
Residents of Skowhegan have pushed back against claims of racism, and have said that the Native American imagery is part of their local heritage and tradition.
“This is our story, not their story — this is our town,” Skowhegan Kenny Steward told the Morning Sentinel. “We are doing a petition to save the Indian name. This is our Indian. We’re not doing it to be racist; we’re not doing it to be disrespectful. We’re doing it to honor the people that lived here before.”