School Committee votes to keep Indian logo at high school

Apr 25, 2022

After more than three years of debate, the School Committee voted 3-1 on Monday, April 25 to reaffirm the high school’s Indian logo, ensuring the symbol’s continued use at the institution.

The vote came after more than 80% of voters signaled their support for keeping the logo in a non-binding referendum in this year’s town election.

Chris Oliver, Kathleen Amaral, and newly-appointed Committee Chair John Nunes each voted to keep the logo. Dr. Shannon Jenkins was the lone dissent.

Vice Chair Mary Waite opted to abstain from the vote.

“This has been a long road for all of us,” Oliver said before bringing the motion to the floor. “I think in this town we have a great opportunity to do something special.”

The motion also included a stipulation that the school enter into a “formal agreement” with the Gay Head Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe.

In her dissent, Jenkins spoke about “the tyranny of the majority” — the concept that in democratic society, a minority population can sometimes be oppressed by a larger majority population.

Jenkins cited examples from American history such as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and the prohibition of same-sex marriage, both of which held majority support at one time.

“Just because something is popular and supported does not make it right,” she said. “There are certain things that should not be subject to the will of the majority.”

Jenkins was briefly interrupted while speaking on the subject by an outburst from multiple audience members, leading Nunes to admonish the crowd sternly.

“I’m only gonna say this once,” he said. “If there is another outburst I will recess this meeting and ask everyone to leave.”

Before casting the deciding vote, Amaral said that she wanted to find a compromise that would make the logo’s use more palatable for everyone.

“My role, I believe, is to look for as much common ground as possible,” she said. “So that we can start to move forward towards some semblance of healing as a community.”

Amaral said the committee should take an inventory of everywhere the Indian logo is placed and make rules that dictate acceptable use in the future.

“We can’t have Indian heads on golf balls getting hit across a green,” she said. “That’s not right.”

Waite said she chose to abstain from the vote because she wanted the resolution to include a provision that would ensure the schools’ curricula include more education about native peoples.

Though Waite was the only committee member to abstain, all five spoke in favor of increasing native education. However, Nunes advocated for passing a simple motion to put the issue to rest before “getting into the weeds” of the education issue at a later date.

Waite said that even though the logo was likely to be kept, she was glad the committee addressed the issue because “the journey was valuable.”

“We want this to be a rich piece of our collective identity if we’re going to move forward,” Waite said. “We have an opportunity to make something better.”

Waite proposed using the phrase “Dartmouth Honors” to emphasize that the logo was being used with respect.

While no other conditions were added to the resolution, the committee agreed to continue the discussions in earnest at future meetings.