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Native American speaker: Indian mascots pay homage to history

  • William Brotherton, a Texas-based lawyer and a native American who advocates for high schools keeping their Indian mascots, speaks with others from Turners Falls at Hubie’s Tavern Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • William Brotherton, in orange, a Texas-based lawyer and a native American who advocates for high schools keeping their Indian mascots, listens to comments at Hubie’s Tavern Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • William Brotherton, in orange, a Texas-based lawyer and a native American who advocates for high schools keeping their Indian mascots, speaks with others from Turners Falls at Hubie’s Tavern Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Chris Pinardi, a Turners Falls parent and pro-Indian advocate, speaks at Hubie’s Tavern with others from the community and William Brotherton, in orange, a Texas-based lawyer and a native American who advocates for high schools keeping their Indian mascots Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Michael Langknecht, the chair of the Gill-Montague Regional School committee speaks at Hubie’s Tavern in Turners Falls with others from the community as well as William Brotherton, a Texas-based lawyer and a native American who advocates for high schools keeping their Indian mascots, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TURNERS FALLS — Members of the Turners Falls High School community were able to hear from William Brotherton, a lawyer and Native American who advocates for schools to keep Indian mascots.

Brotherton, who is from Texas but is a member of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in Vermont, was in the area and stopped in Montague Wednesday night to answer questions and discuss the Turners Falls High School situation at Hubie’s Tavern.

The Gill-Montague Regional School Committee voted in February to discontinue use of the Indian as a nickname and logo for the high school sports teams. The vote came to the disappointment of some members of the community who said they felt unheard in the decision-making process.

Brotherton said there is a larger, cultural issue of political correctness in America, where people no longer feel comfortable discussing difficult issues.

He spoke of his work filing suit to try to save the Fighting Sioux, the Native American mascot at the University of North Dakota, his alma mater.

He said that removing Native American mascots is the removal of history, where people are trying to erase what happened instead of acknowledging it.

“We’re wrong to try and sanitize it,” he said.

Brotherton had been in conversations with Chris Pinardi, a parent and pro-Indian mascot advocate, and Pinardi had previously requested Brotherton come speak to the School Committee.

At Tuesday night’s School Committee meeting, Pinardi invited the entire board to attend Wednesday’s informal discussion. Montague representative Mike Langknecht attended and offered some facts about the how the process unfolded, but was otherwise listening to Brotherton’s comments.

“I’ve come here to listen and just offer facts,” Langknecht said.

Brotherton said during the conversation, which about 10 people attended, the better solution to changing these mascots is to find a way to embrace them with honor and respect.

“What I have to say to you guys is: Keep fighting,” he said.