Opinion: We are not the Indians, and there is no going back

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Opinion: We are not the Indians, and there is no going back

Aislinn Gara Grady, Staff Writer

Hi! Yes, it’s me again … the girl who wrote that article a few weeks ago.

For background, our school has recently been engulfed in a heated conversation about what our mascot should —  or shouldn’t — be.

In an article released last month by The Harbinger Staff, we helped kick off the conversation by reporting on the work of Student Activist Group and by reviewing why our mascot is seen as offensive or insensitive to Native American cultures

With the release of that article along a petition and survey orchestrated and sent out by the Student Activists, the conversation has turned … controversial. Given this is a sensitive subject, many believe time has run its course and a change is necessary, while others — including many alumni — still believe we should continue to sport the Indian name that became our school’s identity in 1949.

But the truth is, we are NOT the Indians. We don’t embrace the mascot anymore. Alumni and even some students seem to be confused by this, thinking that the movement is trying to remove the Indian from our school’s culture when it’s actually already happened.

When Superintendent Matthew Geary was principal of Manchester High, the school started to de-emphasize the use of the Indian mascot because the name was deemed inappropriate. Since then, we lost our mascot and the ability to use it throughout our school.

So let’s take the emotion out of this for a minute. The fact is, we are represented by the ‘M’ and go by Manchester. That’s what on our team’s uniforms. This isn’t a debate. It’s just a fact. What we want is a mascot, because we don’t have one.

We do not associate our school with the Indian name anymore. We do not sport the figure on our apparel, nor do we rally with it at sporting events, and we are not allowed to. We are simply ‘Manchester’ and we’ve only been Manchester for seven years.

Since the de-emphasizing process began, the school paved a path for only two possible outcomes:  

  1. We get a new mascot.


  1. We continue to identify as ‘Manchester’ only.

Why can’t we go back to the Indian mascot?

Well, we get that answer straight from our school’s administration. Our principal, Katelyn Miner, has said that we have “nothing” as a representation for a mascot, and when previously discussing the matter with Harbinger, she showed no inkling toward considering a resurgence of the Indian mascot itself. Ms. Miner, it should be noted, is an MHS graduate.

In April, the town released a report on equity in Manchester schools. The report, done by a Hartford-based group, recommended the school change the nickname  because it “perpetuates harmful stereotypes.”

If we can’t use the Indian mascot anymore, then why are we ‘debating’ about it so much? Why is it even a question?

Well, we’d like to believe this was a ‘student-led’ change. But in all reality, when the de-emphasizing process started, we unknowingly wrote ourselves a narrative for a one-way road.

So, that being said, prior to the last few months, there has been minimal talk about this subject, no one seems to be deeply bothered by the fact that we’re just Manchester.

So why has it blown up so much now?

There are two pulls to this movement.

One is the athletic/school identity aspect.

We’ve lost our ability to identify as a larger group, such as the Indians, because we no longer use our mascot.

Students, especially athletes, can’t sport a mascot — other than the M — on their gear, nor can they establish themselves as part of greater derivative.

We also have sports teams buying new equipment and there is no real mascot to print on it because all we’re relying on is this ‘symbolic’ M. And is that really what we want to continue to identify as?

The other aspect is the ethics of our mascot.

Indian is not the proper term for our nation’s Native people.

Although we were not the ones to give the culture this incorrect name, we forget that it’s only a nod to the deep disrespect and marginalization — that occurs and continues to occur — against Native American cultures throughout our country’s history.

We don’t even embrace our own Native population or history in our town.

So, we go back to the argument about change — “Let’s just go back to the Indians.” But, we can’t. We’ve created a system to completely remove the mascot from usage and there is no willingness by administration to bring it back to our culture.

Either we stay mascot-less with loose ties to the ex-Indian name. Or we establish a new one, along with a new, modern identity for the school — maybe Red Lions or Red Hawks or something no one has considered before.

Those are the choices. There’s no going back.

Consider this as we continue this conversation on our school’s mascot.

For more info and to express your comments, email us at [email protected]

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