by Catherine Smith
AConnecticut high school is reinstating its former mascot — just months after it was ditched because some deemed it racist.
Last week, January 8, the school board voted to restore the Redmen mascot for Killingly High School. The board is also calling for an update to the logo design so that it does not portray Native Americans in a negative stereotype. There are also ideas to develop classes to teach students about Native American heritage, according to the Hartford Courant.
The Redmen logo features a side-profile of a Native American wearing a headdress.
After last week’s vote, Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation told the Courant they “believe the mascot doesn’t honor or represent Native people and has no place in our school system.” The tribe implored the school board to “rethink their decision.”
The vote passed 5-4, largely along party lines.
The Redmen, who became the Redhawks in the fall, will now be known as the Redmen again. The decision follows the election of a majority Republican school board in Killingly, Connecticut, a town of about 17,000 in northeast Connecticut. Republicans in a November election ran largely on the platform of bringing the Redmen mascot back to Killingly High School, board members said. The board had previously been majority Democrat.
The switch infuriated the school’s athletic director, Kevin Marcoux, who testified at the meeting, “Everywhere we go, we are the laughingstock of the state.”
Republican Board member Jason Muscara, who voted in favor of the switch, said he was contacted by students who supported the Redmen mascot, but were afraid to go public.
“If we’re going to talk about respecting our students and protecting our students and doing what’s best for our students, we need to respect the opinion of all of our students, not just the ones we agree with,” Muscara said.
Raymond Wood II, a Native American member of the Nipmuck tribe in Connecticut and Republican town councilman, supported the switch back.
He said he views the Redmen school mascot as a strong symbol of his own Native American heritage — and is happy to see it displayed across the school and the town.
Other defenders of the Redmen have claimed the mascot actually praises Native Americans, but Democratic board member Hoween Flexer disagreed.
“How many more Native Americans need to come to this meeting and tell you they don’t want the honor?” Flexer, who voted against the change, said at the meeting.
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Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.
Photo “Killingly High School” by John Phelan. CC BY-SA 4.0.