Posted on August 22, 2019

Skowhegan District Erases Its Native American Images As School Year Nears

Meg Robbins, Morning Sentinel, August 20, 2019

Next week, Skowhegan Area High School students will return to a building that looks a little different from when they last occupied it. The large mural — of a Native American spearfishing — on the gymnasium’s wall is now a canvas of white cinder blocks. No longer will a “Home of the Indians” sign greet visitors as they turn off of Norridgewock Road and head down the school’s driveway.

Per a controversial school board vote and subsequent state law, the school has retired its “Indians” mascot and nickname. {snip}


The state Legislature voted to ban Native American mascots from its public schools and universities in April, becoming the first state in the country to do so. During hearings on the topic, several members of the state’s Native American populations explained that the use of such symbols did not honor them, but rather promoted a legacy of racism.


“The question of whether it was art is irrelevant,” Ellis said. “When we voted, the way it was worded was that we would stop using the ‘Indians’ name and Native American-related imagery. That includes the mural or any reference to Native Americans in any way. … We can’t make exceptions.”


Ellis said that Colbry asked the principals of each of the district’s schools to identify anything in their buildings relating to Native Americans so that they could be removed over the summer. He noted that the changes should not come as a surprise to the community.