The public will be invited to comment on whether to retain or eliminate the Indian mascot for Dartmouth High School at an upcoming online event, members of the Equality and Diversity Sub-Committee agreed at their Wednesday August 18 meeting.
âThis committee must continue to move things forward,â said Elizabeth Murphy, committee member. âI have big reservations about the waitâ until an in-person meeting can be scheduled.
With the rise in Covid cases, âIt doesn’t look like it’s going to evolve that way any time soon. “
The subcommittee has yet to set a date for this event.
The plans originally called for the August 18 meeting to include in-person public comment, in part in response to concerns from some community members that the public’s voices had not been heard on the mascot issue.
But the in-person portion of the meeting was canceled when the school committee, to which the subcommittee reports, canceled all public participation in the meetings due to concerns related to Covid.
Questions have been raised about the logistics of hosting an online public forum, but Murphy and fellow committee member Lili Chamberlain said they would work to make it happen.
Committee chair Dr Shannon Jenkins said next steps in the process will also include hearing from local tribal leaders. She said that different tribes have different views on the subject.
She would also like to contact Clyde Andrews, Chris Pereira and Jacob Ventura to find a date when they could speak to the subcommittee. The three men wrote a letter to the subcommittee expressing concern over the loss of the mascot.
They had been invited to the meeting on August 18, but refused to attend, citing conflicting personal commitments and the desire for tribal members to be heard first.
The subcommittee also discussed ways in which the school community could further educate the public about the Indian history of the region, beyond the issue of mascots.
One of the commonalities of all the comments they heard, Murphy said, was the fear that indigenous culture would be erased. Making sure that doesn’t happen is crucial, she said, regardless of the mascot decision.
âWe all agree that we want to honor our Indigenous history, our Indigenous culture,â Jenkins said.
âHow can we work to bring more of Wampanoag culture and history to our community? Murphy asked. âWe can think about these ideas and potential collaborations now rather than doing it. [just] vote yes or no on keeping the current mascot.
One possibility, she said, was to create educational information that could be displayed in high-visibility areas such as Memorial Stadium or school hallways near where people congregate for events.
“It’s not just, let’s have a briefing and see who shows up,” she said.
The problem, she said, is to show that “we as a school department and as a community of Dartmouth care about educating and informing” the public about “the history of these lands. and the culture that was indigenous âin the region.
Other issues involving equity and diversity are also important, Jenkins agreed, and will also be addressed by the subcommittee.
The task of the subcommittee goes beyond a single question, she said. âWe are more than the ‘mascot committee’,â she said. “We’re not going to leave after the mascots vote.”