Massachusetts Democratic Party Calls For Elimination Of Native American Mascots, But They’re Not Alone

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What was your high school’s mascot?

Was it the Wamps, Warriors, Indians, Red Raiders, Sachems, Chieftains, Redmen, Aztecs, Braves, Mohawks, Marauders, or Tomahawks?

If so, the Massachusetts Democratic Party doesn’t like it, according to its 2021 party platform released over the weekend.

Under the section titled “Racial Justice, Equal Rights, And Equal Opportunities For All,” it states what “Massachusetts Democrats will fight for.” That includes “The elimination of indigenous mascots, and the removal of the picture of the Native American with a sword over his head from the state flag.”

The Massachusetts Democratic Party could not immediately be reached for comment on the matter on Wednesday.

Members of the party are working to eliminate both American Indian mascots and the official flag of Massachusetts — with the help of some of their Republican colleagues.

Last year, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a bill to change the flag of the Commonwealth. It had the backing of the four Republican state senators at the time: Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), Dean Tran (R-Fitchburg), Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), and Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth).

O’Connor has joined 52 Democrats in the Massachusetts Legislature in supporting “An Act prohibiting the use of Native American mascots by public schools in the Commonwealth” (S.2493). O’Connor could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The proposal would add a 98th section to Chapter 71 of Massachusetts General Laws. Subsection A would state:


The board of elementary and secondary education shall promulgate regulations to ensure that no public school uses an athletic team name, logo, or mascot which names, refers to, represents, or is associated with Native Americans, including aspects of Native American cultures and specific Native American tribes, or which denigrates any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious group. The board shall establish a date by which any school in violation of said regulations shall choose a new team name, logo, or mascot.)


It also states that schools may use uniforms and other athletic material using the prohibited logo during the transition time to a new mascot if they refrain from using it everywhere else and have selected a new mascot.

State Senator Joanne Comerford (D-Northampton) is the lead sponsor of the bill. She explained why she thinks it’s important earlier this year.

“This is one of the pieces of legislation of the MA Indigenous Legislative Agenda, which was created by Native American tribes that are indigenous to Massachusetts,” she told The Greenfield Recorder. “They have asked for many years now that schools not use Native imagery, words and symbols as athletic logos. They’ve experienced these as demeaning and they simply just ask to not have their culture used as an athletic symbol.”

“The research proves that, with regard to Native Americans, it seemed to correlate with lower self-esteem, depression … and for non-Natives it correlated with culturally-insensitive viewpoints and racism.”

“It perpetuates those things in white communities,” she later added. “I’m happy to carry this bill.”

The bill provides no funding to transition to a new team name, something that can cost schools more than $50,000.

While many public high schools in Massachusetts have dropped American Indian team names and logos in recent years, 22 public high schools still use them, according to the New England Anti-Mascot Coalition. They include the:


Agawam High Browns

Amesbury High Indians

Assabet Valley Regional High Aztecs

Bartlett Junior/Senior High Indians

Billerica High Indians

Blue Hills Regional High Warriors

Bristol County Agricultural High Chieftains

The High School of Commerce Red Raiders

Dartmouth High Indians

Foxborough High Warriors

King Philip Regional High Warriors

Lowell High Red Raiders

Masconomet Regional High Chieftains

Matignon High Warriors,

Middleborough High Sachems

Millis High Mohawks

Nipmuc Regional High Warriors

Saugus High Sachems

Seekonk High Warriors

Tewksbury High Redmen

Wahconah Regional High Warriors

Ware Junior/Senior High Indians


Meanwhile, other communities have changed their mascots and logos. The North Quincy High Red Raiders, for example, became the Raiders in 2020 and now have a colonial American as their logo. Additionally on the South Shore, the Hanover High Indians became the Hawks this past January.

If Massachusetts were to ban Indian mascots, it wouldn’t be the first New England state to do so. Maine did it in 2019 with little resistance. The state legislature  unanimously passed a bill banning the use of Indian mascots in all Maine public schools.


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