King: Our school and community (fully) support the Red Raider
ATHOL — On Monday, a bill that, if passed, would ban the use of Native American mascots in Massachusetts public schools had a public hearing at the Statehouse. The bill could potentially impact many of the schools within the area.
Athol High School could be added to that list if the bill were passed.
The high school uses the team name of the Red Raiders and a logo that depicts a Native American. It has been used since the school’s establishment according to Athol’s Assistant Principal and athletic director David King.
King said that he is aware of the proposed legislation. However, he expressed that he does not believe that the bill has much momentum.
“The bill is still in its early stage and I’m not sure how much momentum it has,” said King.
With the bill still in its infancy stage, King was unsure exactly how it would affect the Red Raider mascot and logo. Regardless of how it may or may not impact the school, King expressed that the school and community strongly support the use of the Red Raider.
“The issue has only come up once in the 18 years I have been here and the one time it came up, our students and community fully supported it,” said King. “Our school and community supports the Red Raider.”
The school has not yet filed an objection to the bill. However, King said that the school does have strong interest in filing an objection if it came to that situation.
“If the situation were to occur, we would work with our reps,” said King. “But yes, we do have a strong interest in filing objection and that would be done by our reps.”
Steven Meyer, Athol’s superintendent, expressed that he plans to address and inform about the bill at the next school committee meeting held in June. Meyer said he has no comments on the bill at this time.
“I would need to investigate it further,” said Meyer.
Throughout Massachusetts, many schools that use a Native American mascot and logo have shown support for the continuation of usage. One of those schools is the Algonquin Regional High School. The school uses the Tomahawks — an object often associated with Native Americans — as their school’s name and logo. They issued a statement that appeared on their website and masslive.com. Their statement is as follows:
“The student body has chosen to retain the tomahawk as our symbol because it embraces our sense of tradition and school spirit. We will strive to promote the positive aspects of our heritage and deter, in any way, representation of the tomahawk that would be demeaning to Native American cultures.”
Members of Turners Falls High School’s school district have expressed a want to abolish the Native American mascot. The team’s logo depicts a person wearing a traditional Native American war bonnet.
Turners Falls was named after Captain William Turner who played a key role in the region’s Indian Wars. In 1676, Captain Turner led a group of approximately 160 mounted soldiers from Hadley and made a surprise attack on a Native American encampment near the falls. The attack on the Gill side of the great falls resulted in tragic deaths to many innocent people, including women and children.
In 1997, Frontier Regional School was asked to do away with their team name and logo, the Redskins. The Frontier School Committee voted to remove the Redskin mascot and to also remove any other references to the name, a name used by the school for 44 years. In 2002, the school officially removed the name in favor of their current team mascot and logo, the Red Hawks.