Wampanoag Tribe Member: Despite Victory, Dartmouth Indians Fight Not Over
It's been a hot topic in Dartmouth for years, and when it was finally put to the ballot April 5, it wasn't even close.
The town has made it plain as day. Voters supported the longtime Dartmouth Indian logo, 4,048 to 969.
Sean Carney, a local attorney and Wampanoag Tribe member, says he hopes that the Dartmouth School Committee now takes this information and respects the will of the people.
"When you look at a lot of the other hot issues that are in the media or at the ballot box, these things are usually only decided by a couple of points," Carney said. "Normally a swing of 10 points is a decisive victory. Here we had more than 4 to 1 support. Dartmouth has resoundingly made their opinion known. This is now a mandate, when 80% of your constituency supports the Dartmouth Indian.
"If the School Committee ignores this, I think the Town of Dartmouth would really need to start evaluating who sits on that committee and for what reasons."
When it comes to team logos and mascots, Carney said he believes each needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. Carney said both the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians were examples of doing it wrong, calling the caricature in Cleveland "disrespectful" and Washington's team name "derogatory."
Listen to Carney's Interview on Michael and Maddie
Dartmouth is different, in Carney's opinion.
Carney doesn't look at the Indian name as offensive and the logo, he says, is not a caricature. He's concerned that if imagery of native people continues to be erased from contemporary American culture and conversation, people might eventually, someday, forget about the native people altogether.
Carney said he believes that a lot of the members local to Dartmouth strongly supported keeping the Indians name. He just hopes the Dartmouth School Committee has finally gotten the message.
"It would be a slap in the face of representative democracy should the (committee) disregard the town's referendum and start to change, ban or cancel the nomenclature and symbolism here," he said.
One takeaway that Carney hopes everyone can agree on is that there can be more focus on local history in schools.
Will this vote officially put this topic to bed? It's unlikely.
"It's never really over," Carney said.