District to review Tomahawk Chop during Turners Thanksgiving game 

  • A Turners Falls football team waterboy wears an Indian headdress during their game Thanksgiving day, Thursday, November 24, 2016.

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/28/2016 9:52:26 PM

GREENFIELD — The debate over whether Turners Falls should keep its Indian mascot was brought to the field on Thursday at the annual Thanksgiving Day football game between Greenfield and Turners Falls when the team did the “Tomahawk Chop” and a waterboy wore a Native American headdress.

The “Tomahawk Chop” is when the participants moves their arm in a downward chopping motion, as to mimic a Native American use of the particular type of hatchet.

The Gill-Montague Regional School Committee banned the Tomahawk Chop, and its accompanying chant from sporting events in 2009. While fans occasionally do the Tomahawk Chop, it hasn’t been done by the football team since the ban.

Michael Sullivan, superintendent for the Gill-Montague Regional School district, said the administration is reviewing what took place at the game.

Turners Falls High School Principal Annie Leonard and Gill-Montague Regional School Committee Chairman Mike Langknecht couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.

Turners Falls Football Coach Chris Lapointe said the Tomahawk Chop and headdress were not coordinated with the coaching staff.

It’s unclear who organized the players’ Tomahawk Chop, or where the headdress came from.

According to Recorder archives, the chop was banned in May 2009 by the school committee, which called it offensive and discriminatory at the time. The vote was 7-2. The ban covers any school-sponsored group from making the hand motion and bans the school marching band from playing the associated song. Individual students and fans are not subject to the ban.

The two demonstrations on Thursday came at a time when the committee is debating whether to keep the Turners Falls mascot, currently the Indians.

The committee voted to review the mascot in late September and has since held two forums to gage public opinion on the issue. Next, the committee plans to hold educational forums. The first one will have a historical perspective and will be held in the high school’s auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

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


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