SKOWHEGAN – The Native American Guardian’s Association gathered in Skowhegan Sunday to show their support for keeping the Skowhegan Indians name and seal, but not everyone shares that opinion.
Over the past few months people have spoken out for and against the ‘Skowhegan Indian’ sports team name.
Some people don’t want it to be changed at all while others said it honors the Native American culture.
Skowhegan resident Jennifer Poirier said NAGA, short for Native American Guardian’s Association, reached out to them lending their support in retaining the Skowhegann Indian name, “They’ve made the effort to come all this way we have speakers from Oregon, North Dakota, Virgina. They’ve made the effort to come and meet with us and support our town so we’re making the effort to come out and listen to them,” said Poirier.
This Native American group from out of state holds a different opinion from local native american tribes.
NAGA member Mark Onewolf said, “I believe that every situation needs to hear all sides. And that’s one reason why I really appreciate you all inviting us to hear all sides of the issue.”
Some think it’s time to change the name, including Derek Ellis who is also on the school board, “I do not want this to end up affecting my child’s education because of finances and the inability to hear people,” said Ellis.
He said he does want to see the name changed and has done his research on NAGA and is open to learning something new.
“I’m open to any opinion I think as a school board member you should make an informed decision and hearing the other side and hearing a different philosophy on mascot and Native American imagery is important,” Ellis said.
Jennifer said the school does not have a mascot anymore. She said the school has a name and a seal on the gymnasium wall.
“There’s no mascot running around anymore…we actually back in 2001 took out all the mascot and the negative imagery because we were asked to, we made those concessions, but we kept our name and the seal thats all we have left,” Poirier.
The school board has yet to set up a time to vote on this name change.