Controversy is brewing in North Haven as residents clash over whether to change the town mascot.
Opponents of the mascot – the Indians – call it derogatory. A change.org petition imploring the board of education to take action says it’s time to “take a stand and change the old and disrespectful ways people think about race.”
“There has been national conversation over the use of Native Americans on team names and mascots; most famously being the Washington Redskins,” the petition says. “Many Native Americans groups have spoken out saying that it is offensive and disrespectful to appropriate their culture in this way.”
Residents standing behind the Indians have responded in kind by launching a second petition called “Keep the Indian Mascot,” which had collected more than 1,500 signatures as of Thursday evening.
A Facebook page has also been launched in defense of the mascot.
“Where did our Indian mascot come from? It was to honor the Indians of North Haven. The indian symbol in our mascot is the look of chief Montowese who we lived with here in North Haven,” the page posted. “Our Mascot is to honor the memory of the North Haven Indian tribes, not to poke fun or to discriminate. The American settlers of North Haven lived with the Indians, we worked together. These people who want to change the mascot do not even know why we have it to begin with.”
It’s not clear where the school system stands on the issue, but the North Haven Football team posed the question to the community on Twitter.
“Hearing a lot of chatter about changing the North Haven mascot. What do you think?” the team tweeted on Monday, Jan. 13. “Favorite to change the name, Retweet to keep Indians.”
As of Thursday night, the post had garnered 140 retweets in favor of the mascot and just 10 favorites in opposition.
The North Haven school system did not return a request for comment Thursday.