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School Administration to Reach Out to Nipmuc Over Mascot Name

Mendon/Upton and Nipmuc school administrators say they will start a dialogue and seek to form an educational partnership with the Nipmuc Nation as Beacon Hill lawmakers mull a bill that would ban public schools in the state from using Native American names or using Native American symbols or images for their logos.
"My attitude is that we should use this as a teachable moment from the perspective of having our students at Nipmuc understand the history of the tribe and the history of the nation," Mendon/Upton School Superintendent Joseph Maruszczak told the Crier. "Our principal, John Clements, has started some informal conversations with members of the nation and I hope to soon have more formal discussions."
The legislature held a public hearing in Boston last week and a Native American mascot as a ''name, symbol, or image that depicts or refers to an American Indian tribe, individual, custom, or tradition that is used by a public school as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name.''
Maruszczak said he has not personally heard any complaints in his six-years on the job about the name of the school as well as the mascot, which is the Warriors. The current logo depicting the head of a Native American chief is derived from a past Nipmuc chief who posed for the image, Maruszczak said, but a statement released by the Nipmuc Nation last September said "the use of ethnic-related sports team mascots, symbols, and nicknames has to stop."
Reached by the Crier Tuesday, Chief Cheryll Toney Holley deferred to spokeswoman Love Richardson, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The 2016 letter, signed by Richardson, said the Nipmuc Nation Tribal Council unanimously voted that "any and all sports mascot depicting Native people is directly tied to the history of genocide in this country against our people."
Maruszczak said he would ideally like to work with members of the Nation to develop a formal educational partnership to teach students more about their school's namesake, but he and other administrators indicated they are open to discussing a change.
"I think it's always been very respectful," Maruszczak said, referring to the mascot and logo used by the school. "If we got the sense at the school level that the use of the Warrior logo was disrespectful, then I think we would push to have more of a community-wide conversation, maybe something in the form of a community forum."
"Times change, and if the belief of the Nation is we need to look at how we are doing things, then we welcome working with them," added Nipmuc Athletic Director Chris Schmidt. "We want to make sure we are doing right by them and, if change needs to happen, then we need to look thoughtfully at how that plays out.




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