Dartmouth Indians in Good Company in High School Name Game
It was a big year for the Dartmouth High School Football Indians.
The Indians finished the season with a disappointing 5-7 record, but perhaps their most significant victory was in the court of public opinion and not on the gridiron.
Dartmouth residents voted in April by a more than 4-1 margin to keep the Indians team name and logo. The Dartmouth School Committee affirmed the vote weeks later.
The vote ended a contentious debate over whether the name was offensive and if a new name was in order. Many in the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) fought to preserve the Dartmouth Indians name and logo.
In September, two plaques were unveiled at Dartmouth's Memorial Stadium, where the Indians play their home games, honoring the logo and the tribe's lengthy history in the community.
While it served as a lightning rod for those who believe team names such as Indians are demeaning to Native Americans, there are a number of Massachusetts high schools with team names that some might find derogatory.
They include Brookline Warriors, Billerica Memorial Indians, South Shore Christian Warriors, Salem Witches, Middleboro Sachems, Millis/Hopedale Co-op Mohawks, Assabet Valley RVT Aztecs, Algonquin Regional Tomahawks, Braintree Wamps, Nashoba Regional Chieftains, and at least two Blue Devils and two Red Devils, to name a few.
Massachusetts has home to numerous Native American tribes before Europeans settled here. Native American words name many streets, towns, teams, and even the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts state flag is being redesigned because some believe the Native American image against the white backdrop is offensive. No one on the redesign committee has been able to come up with a more appropriate design that would not offend Native Americans concerned about losing their identity.
Perhaps the fight to preserve the Dartmouth Indians name and logo might dissuade those who might target similar team names in other Massachusetts communities.