West Hartford forum discusses Indian mascot names

By: Bob Wilson, WTNH Reporter

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — There is talk of stripping the logos from both Hall and Conard High Schools in West Hartford because some students feel they are racist terms, so should the mascots stay or go?

Right now it’s only talk, nothing has been decided, but it has stirred the passion of the students in the West Hartford high schools. Hundreds packed the city hall auditorium to tell the board of education yes or no. Rachael Yousman is one of the students who put the wheels in motion.

RELATED STORY: Will West Hartford replace its high school Indian mascots?

“People are extremely emotionally attached to it, and to them it is part of their high school experience,” said Yousman. “It is a part of what made them who they are.”

At Conard the mascot is a chieftain and the fans call themselves The Tribe. At Hall High School they dropped the Indian mascot three years ago and call themselves the Warriors, and the fans are The Reservation. So is this racist? Yousman says yes.

“I see it as a raciest symbol,” said Yousman. “It has stereotypical features with weathered skin and a big nose.”

Another student wearing a chieftain sweatshirt disagrees.

“I feel like we use it to honor everybody, use it as a sign of respect,” said the student.

News 8 talked to both tribes in Connecticut. While they didn’t want to put a statement on the record, they did say that they had been working with Montville to keep their Native American mascot. They had a tribal member work with them to create a logo that was was honoring and put a lot of pride into the Mohegans. President of the West Hartford Board of Education, Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, has also been talking to them.

“The names can have deep meaning and respect if Native Americans can have input and talk about what it means for them in a way that is appropriate,” Overmyer-Velazquez.

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