Please read the following communication from myself and Principal Aaron Robb on this subject. You will notice that the “headdress” has been replaced with a W to represent Wahconah for use in athletics and other realms.
Wahconah Regional High School has served the students and families of CBRSD for almost 60 years. With a new Wahconah slated to open in the fall of 2021, our school will be set to serve our community for many more generations to come. Throughout our school’s history, we’ve prided ourselves on being the home of the Warriors. Various images depicting the “Warrior” have existed throughout our school’s history. The most popular and most recent depiction of the “Warrior” originated in 1996 from a stock image that was selected to appear on the side of our football team’s helmets at the time. Since then, various teams and booster clubs have chosen to use that image to represent their group as well.
In recent years, increasing concern has been raised about the use of Native American images and caricatures by athletic teams and organizations. This concern about cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity has been expressed at the local, state, and national level. As a result, various states around the country have imposed some sort of ban on Native American logos among their scholastic athletic teams. See article below:
Massachusetts seems to be inching closer to a similar ban as well. The movement in Massachusetts started several years ago and has been gaining momentum. Of the over 300 high schools in the Commonwealth, we are among only 38 left who still have a Native American mascot. While not yet law, a bill in the Massachusetts state legislature proposes to impose such a ban. There was a hearing held by the Joint Education Committee at the State House just this past June. See articles below:
So in anticipation of what we believe will eventually become law, we are exploring options to represent our school and athletic teams that does not depict some sort of Native American caricature. At the same time, we are still seeking to have something that best represents our school and its name.
As we move forward, it’s important to note several important points about this situation:
- This change is not due to fact that we are in the midst of a building project. The timing of this proposed bill and the timing of the building project are purely coincidental. That being said, it’s important to note that it would be fiscally irresponsible of CBRSD to place any permanent fixtures (i.e. on the wall, in the tile, etc.) into the new Wahconah depicting Native American caricatures given we would most likely have to remove it.
- The most popular representation of the “Warrior” logo that many of our teams currently use does not accurately represent the Mahican tribe who lived in our area and the tribe in which the actual Wahconah belonged to. They did not wear elaborate head dresses as depicted in our current logo.
- As our Athletic department continues to update equipment and uniforms, we will no longer be ordering anything that has a depiction of a Native American caricature on it. Again, this is in an effort to be fiscally responsible in the long run.
- Given the momentum this movement is gaining at the local, state, and national level, it seems as though these changes are becoming the norm and we anticipate that to continue. Keeping an open mind and creating alternatives to best represent our school ultimately puts ourselves in position to be on the right side of history and would prevent our school community from being judged as racially insensitive.
It’s important to keep in mind that, ultimately, this is a work in progress. If you have questions or concerns about the proposed bill, we urge you to contact your state legislator directly. With regards to Wahconah’s logo, please feel free to reach out to us.
Laurie Casna, Superintendent
Aaron Robb, Principal