Maine Education Officials Urge Schools To Stop Using Native American Mascots And Logos

Mar 1, 2019

The Maine Department of Education has weighed in on the debate over the use of Native American mascots in schools.

Opponents and supporters of the Skowhegan High Indians mascot attend a school board meeting on the issue in December 2018.
Credit Susan Sharon / Maine Public

In a notice sent out to schools on Friday, the department says that it "urges schools to refrain from using mascots and logos that depict Native American tribes, individuals, customs or traditions."

It also pointed to studies showing negative effects from the use of those mascots.

The notice comes as debate over the mascot issue at Skowegan High School has re-ignited in recent months, including at a local school board meeting Thursday night.

Several tribal leaders, as well as the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, have urged the school to stop using the "Indians" name. But many local residents continue to support it.

The Department of Education acknowledges that, while it doesn't have a say over local decisions, it encourages schools to consider the impact of "promoting symbols and stereotypes that marginalize individuals or groups of people."

Gov. Janet Mills weighed in on the issue in December, saying in a letter that the mascot has become a "source of pain and anguish" for Native Americans.

The MSAD 54 school board plans to take up the issue at a school board work session next week.

Updated 1:51 p.m. March 1, 2019