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Bill filed in state Senate would ban use of Native American mascots

  • The Turners Falls Indian mascot displayed at the ticket box office. Recorder FILE PHOTO/Matt Burkhartt



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A bill that would ban the use of Native American mascots and imagery in Massachusetts high schools has been filed in the state Senate.

The bill, introduced Thursday, was filed “by request” by Sen. Barbara L’Italian, a Democrat representing the 2nd Essex and Middlesex district.

According to L’Italian’s spokeswoman Emma Friend, the bill was requested by a resident of Tewksbury, where the high school’s mascot is the Redmen.

If passed, the bill would affect the ongoing debate in Montague over whether Turners Falls High School should keep its current mascot, the Indians.

The Facebook page “Save the TF Indians Logo” posted about the bill on Tuesday afternoon.

“While this decision has yet to be made at the state level the Save the TF Indians Logo members will continue to press the GMRSD to make the right choice and keep the school name and logo,” part of the post said.

Tewksbury recently went though a similar public debate about their mascot, with its School Committee voting to keep the mascot after public outcry.

The bill specifically bans the “use of the team name ‘Redskins,’ ‘Savages,’ ‘Indians,’ ‘Indianettes,’ ‘Chiefs,’ ‘Chieftains,’ ‘Braves’ or ‘Redmen’” from being used by any public school in the state.

Though filed last week, the bill will not have a hearing until committee assignments are complete.

If a bill is filed by request, it means the senator presenting the bill is essentially a vehicle for getting the legislation to the assembly, and may or may not support it, according to Friend.

The bill applies to “A name, symbol or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual, custom or tradition that is used by a public school as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name.”

Reach Miranda Davis at
413-772-0261, ext. 280
or mdavis@recorder.com.