Turners Falls still divided over new team name

  • Mohawk’s Lexi Mazza (5) jumps up for a block against Turners Falls’ Chloe Ellis (8) in the second set on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 in Buckland. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

  • Turner Falls players run through a walking pushup drill during the first practice of the season Friday at the high school. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

Recorder Staff
Published: 3/1/2018 5:09:49 PM

TURNERS FALLS — It’s been over a year since Turners Falls High School decided to remove the Indian as its mascot, but some community members are having a difficult time letting go.

Overall, the Logo Task Force received 197 suggestions for “Indian” and multiple suggestions for “Pride” and “Tribe,” according to Task Force member Alana Martineau.

After a preliminary screening, the task force gave the Gill-Montague School Committee a list of 136 potential mascot names to review — which led to a lengthy debate about the appropriateness of “Tribe.”

Some of the names the committee left on the list were Falcons, Trailblazers, Powertown River Raptors, Powertown Chargers, Thunder and Wolves.

The task force had eliminated the names that obviously didn’t meet the criteria established by the school board, which reviewed the 136 names Tuesday. Ultimately, the decision is up to the task force.

The task force did nix the following suggestions: Natives, Tomahawks, Invaders, Raiders, Nutcrackers and Terminators. They expressed concern that some of the names were too close to “Indians” or potentially alluded too much to the massacre of natives in 1676 near modern day Turners Falls, which is named for the leader of the raid on mostly women and children during King Philip’s War between colonists and native people.

One of the most hotly contested submissions was “Tribe.” School Committee members, as well as the task force were divided over whether the suggestion was too close to the former name. Some felt that it was an appropriate compromise for the community, while others voted to cross it off the list.

While committee member Shawn Hubert said he understood the concern about “Tribe,” he noted that the name doesn’t necessarily mean a tribe of Native Americans.

Some committee members wondered how the school could embrace the Tribe logo without continuing to do the controversial “Tomahawk chop” and chants at athletic games.

“I don’t care what the logo is. People are always going to do the chop and you’re not going to be able to stop them,” replied Martineau.

She displayed a submitted paper with a potential logo if the school were to take on the “Tribe” name. The makeshift logo consisted of a large “T” in Castellar font with wings to represent the area’s native bald eagles.

The submission was written by a person who claimed to be against the Indian mascot, but who felt that “Tribe” was an appropriate compromise.

“Who do we think we’re kidding,” said Tupper Brown, another task force member. “There is no doubt in the local parlance … that it will be taken as the previous mascot. I think it’s a subversion of everything you guys have tried to do. It’s not genuine.”

Conversely, committee member Mike Langknecht saw potential in the “Tribe” suggestion.

“This isn’t a punitive thing,” he said. “We didn’t set out to prove how bad people are for wanting to be the Turners Falls Indians. My children were Turners Falls Indians and that’s not going to change. ... We all understand we’re in this together. We have different positions. None of us are evil.”

“A good number of the logo task force was against ‘tribe’ because of its connotations to the previous logo,” said Christine Bates, another task force member.

“Tribe can be used anthropologically, but it is usually related to Indians,” said School Committee Vice Chairwoman Jane Oakes. “In common usage, it’s thought to be Native Americans.”

The School Committee went through each of the 136 suggested names, voting “yes” or “no” with thumbs up or thumbs down. Members decided to cross off suggestions like Titans, Captains, Fury, Twisters and Yellowjackets. Langknecht and Hubert voted to keep Tribe on the list. Lesley Cogswell, Christina Postera, Heather Katsoulis, Jane Oakes and Timmie Smith voted to remove it from the list. Eventually, Tribe didn’t make the cut.

As of now, the task force has the School Committee-approved list of finalists. The task force hopes to make a decision within the next month.

Reach Christie Wisniewski at:


or 413-772-0261, ext. 280

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