West Hartford

West Hartford to Invite Tribal Nations to Discussion on School Mascots

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West Hartford’s board of education will be inviting members of local tribal nations to meet as a debate continues over whether to change the nicknames of two high schools.

In 2015, officials in town voted to keep the names of the town's two high school mascots – the Chieftan and the Warrior – but change their logos amid debate about their use of Native American imagery.

Then, in February 2022, the school board voted in favor of changing the nicknames and setting a goal of finding new ones.

During a board of education meeting on Tuesday night, several parents and alumni spoke up on both sides of the debate and the board voted to invite local tribal nations to attend their next meeting on Tuesday, May 3 and share their thoughts on the debate.

The state passed a law last summer that requires municipalities with athletic teams that use Native American names or mascots to receive written support from a state or federally recognized tribe in Connecticut or risk losing state grants derived from revenue at the state’s two tribal casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Most of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with extra money earmarked for communities located near the gaming centers. The amounts are based on a formula that involves a number of factors, including the value of untaxable property within the community. Payments are made three times a year and can total as much as $5 million or more for the larger cities.

The West Hartford board of education hopes to make a decision by June.

NBC Connecticut and Associated Press
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