Public to weigh in on whether Indian stays or goes

Jul 13, 2021

Should the Dartmouth Indian be retained or retired?

The community will be invited to weigh in on that issue at a public meeting in August, members of the Equality and Diversity Subcommittee agreed at their July 13 meeting.

Listening to public input matters, subcommittee member Dianne Massari said. 

“It’s important to have their voices heard so they know we’re taking it seriously and they’re being heard,’’ she added.

“This committee is about equality and diversity and inclusion,’’ said Dartmouth High School principal Ross Thibault, a member of the diversity subcommittee. “It does not make sense not to hear other perspectives.’’

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at Dartmouth High School if School Committee members approve a return to in-person meetings, which they are scheduled to discuss at their July 26 meeting.

Subcommittee chair Dr. Shannon Jenkins will invite Clyde Andrews, Chris Pereira and Jacob Ventura to speak at the beginning of the Aug. 18 meeting for about 10 to 15 minutes. 

The three men wrote to the subcommittee in favor of maintaining the mascot. In their letter, they expressed concern that public input was not being solicited.

They will be given the same amount of speaking time that was offered to Kempton Campbell, a Dartmouth High graduate who has studied mascots, and Dr. Laurel Davis-Delano, a sociologist who reviewed research on the topic, Jenkins said. Both presenters spoke at a June 22 subcommittee meeting against the mascot. 

Members of the public will be invited to speak on the issue for about two minutes each, Jenkins noted. 

The subcommittee has been charged by the school committee with making a recommendation on the future of the Dartmouth Indian mascot. 

Some on the subcommittee suggested that they make a recommendation on the mascot after hearing from the public. 

Then they could suggest the School Committee, armed with their recommendation, reach out to tribal leaders for their input, Jenkins said.

Having a “clear understanding’’ of what the recommendation is before tribal leaders are called on for input better frames the discussion, subcommittee member Elizabeth Murphy said.

“We can say, we’ve listened to those for and against’’ the mascot, Jenkins said. “Then we can recommend the School Committee invite the tribal leaders.’’

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chair of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), wrote to the subcommittee in support of keeping the mascot. 

But not all tribal leaders agree, Jenkins said. The Pocasset Wampanoag tribe, which she said lays claim to Dartmouth, opposes the mascot. 

“Tribal views are not universal,’’ she said.