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Pentucket School Officials Thinking About Ditching American Indian Nickname Four Years After They Decided To Keep It

July 22, 2020

A regional school committee in northeastern Massachusetts is re-opening a discussion on whether to change the high school’s Indian-oriented nickname.

Pentucket Regional High School in West Newbury calls the Sachem its mascot.

“Sachem” refers to the paramount chief (or highest regional leader) of Algonquin-speaking American Indian tribes, which predominated in what is now New England when English settlers arrived in the 1600s.

In June 2016, the school committee voted to keep Sachem, according to The Daily News of Newburyport.

The re-opening of a matter decided four years ago was prompted by a petition seeking to change the name. The chairman of the school committee said Tuesday, July 21 that the committee plans to make a decision in September 2020, according to The Salem News.

Opponents of using American Indian words and images for local high school sports teams say appropriate and trivialize indigenous people and culture.

Supporters say the nicknames honor indigenous people and culture and are bound with the traditions of the school and town where they are employed.

Pentucket serves the towns of West Newbury, Groveland, and Merrimac.

The three small semi-rural towns are east of the city of Haverhill, which was called Pentucket by Algonquin-speaking Indians in the area. The regional school district was formed in 1954, and has used “Sachem” as its nickname ever since.

Pentucket Regional School District seal

 

High schools in the Massachusetts towns of Winchester, Saugus, and Middleborough also use Sachem as a nickname.

 

Winchester High School Sachems logo. The school serves the town of Winchester, Massachusetts. Screenshot of school web site taken Wednesday, July 22. 2020.

 

Saugus High School Sachems logo. The school serves the town of Saugus, Massachusetts. Screenshot of school web site taken Wednesday, July 22. 2020.

 

Middleborough High School Sachems. The school serves the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts. Screenshot of school web site taken Wednesday, July 22. 2020.

 

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