The last Maine high school to use an “Indian” nickname is retiring the mascot.
The Skowhegan-based School Administrative District 54 Board of Directors voted 14-9 Thursday night to get rid of the nickname for all schools in the district, ending a years-long debate over the Skowhegan Area High School mascot.
The Penobscot Nation spearheaded efforts to get the district to drop the nickname, calling it racist and demeaning to real Native Americans.
Proponents of the Indian nickname insisted it honors Maine’s American Indian tribes, and some said the matter is not yet settled.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills had urged the board to discontinue use of the nickname, and the Maine Department of Education also urged schools “to refrain from using mascots and logos that depict Native American tribes, individuals, customs or traditions.” There’s also a bill in the Maine Legislature to ban Native American mascots in schools.
Other schools already abandoned Native American-themed mascots and nicknames like Indians, Warriors, Braves and Chiefs.
But Skowhegan resisted the trend.
“This mascot meant a lot to a lot of people for a very long time,” Iver Lofving, who teaches art at Skowhegan High School, told Maine Public.
But he predicted people will settle into the idea and work together to create an actual mascot for the sidelines, something Skowhegan hasn’t had for years.