People in Guilford voiced strong opinions Thursday night about the fate of Guilford High School's mascot, the Indians. The Board of Education held an online public forum about whether they should change or keep it. The majority of those who spoke favored changing the mascot, saying it doesn't honor Native Americans and is offensive.
"I feel that it is long overdue that we make this change," said Barbara Hargraves.
"We can't maintain a mascot that's named incorrectly after a group of human beings whose existence has been demeaned and decimated over the centuries," said Dee Jacob.
Those against the change say it's not the mascot that's offensive.
"I take no offense whatsoever to our mascot being an Indian. And as a matter of fact the entire night all I have heard are non-minorities talking about how they are embarrassed, embarrassed to be an Indian. I find that offensive," said Ashleigh Fritz.
"Getting rid of names, getting rid of statues, I don't think is the right way to solve a problem. I think you're burying your head in the sand," said Tim Vale.
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation sent a statement to Guilford Public Schools pushing for the name change, saying in part, "Native Americans are not mascots, nor should our cultures be misappropriated as such. Race or ethnic-themed mascots or school nicknames perpetuate the stereotypes and racism that harm Native and non-Native students. When schools and sports teams use the term “Indian” as a team name, it implies Native people are of the past as if we’re artifacts - something that’s extinct. For centuries, our ancestors strived to assert their identity, protect our culture and maintain our existence, and we want people to know that we are alive and well, and continue to be an essential part of American society."
There was also discussion about adding more curriculum to the schools to teach students about the tribes in Connecticut. That's something speakers on both sides agreed with.
The Board of Education will hold another special meeting on Monday to possibly take action on the mascot. If you were unable to speak Thursday night, you can email the board chair or the superintendent with your comments: Board Chair Dr. Katie Balestracci at firstname.lastname@example.org or Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Freeman at email@example.com