AUGUSTA (WGME) – Just weeks after Skowhegan school board members voted to remove the name “Indian” from anything related to their high school, a new bill in Augusta would prohibit any public school in Maine from ever having a name or image like that again.
The bill to ban all Native American names and imagery in Maine high schools is a direct response to those still fighting to bring back the Skowhegan Indians mascot.
“In light of the fact that there’s a very vocal minority that wants to overturn the school board’s 14-9 decision and keep that mascot, this bill is moving forward,” said Rep. Benjamin Collings, D-Portland.
Opponents of the bill said the term “Indian” respects the history of the area and that removing it hurts Maine’s history.
“When we start taking things out of our schools, when we start destroying history, we’re taking from our future. We’re taking from our kids,” said James MacArthur, a Cherokee and member of Skowhegan Pride.
Tribal representatives disagreed.
“I certainly am not feeling honored at all. I’m not feeling respected. I’m not feeling loved. I’m not feeling any of those sentiments they are portraying at all,” said Passamaquoddy Tribe representative Dwayne Tomah.
State representatives said the debate has been costing Skowhegan officials time and money and that the bill would prevent the issue from coming up again.