Residents react to Native American mascot debate

Voters in Turners Falls decided to keep their mascot

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s been an on-going debate across the country – whether sports teams should use Native American mascots. Lawmakers will have the final decision.

Agawam High School is known as the home of the “Brownies” for its Indian mascot, but it’s a name that some are finding offensive. Now, it’s an issue lawmakers will tackle this week.

Medina Harris from Springfield said, “I really think we should keep it. It’s been going on for years, why get rid of it?”

Others, like Kathleen Moran of Waltham, have mixed feelings. “I’m a young, white, American woman, and I don’t know that it’s fair for me to be representative of what is and what isn’t right for other cultures.”

John Moriarty of West Springfield said, “The atrocities were committed against them, but I don’t think that’s the tenor in which the use of the mascot is intended.”

Most recently, voters in Turners Falls made their decision. In a non-binding referendum, voters decided to keep the mascot.

Earlier this year, the Gill-Montague School Board decided to be done with the Indian mascot.

Tuesday morning, lawmakers will hear testimony.

Moriarty said, Native American mascots pay homage to the culture. “It’s a real honor to have that kind of thing done for you. It shows the appreciation, in my view, of the vitality and the strength of those people.”

If the bill passes, Agawam and Turners Falls would have to get a new mascot. The bill would ban all Native American school mascots in Massachusetts.

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