Skowhegan - Following news that the Skowhegan School Board voted 14-9 to retire the “Indians” mascot, ACLU of Maine staff attorney Emma Bond issued the following statement:

“This is an historic moment for Skowhegan and our state. We are thrilled that majority of Skowhegan’s school board members listened to the people who were being hurt and did the right thing. By retiring the harmful mascot, the town of Skowhegan is forging a bold new legacy of leadership.”

Studies have shown using indigenous mascots lower the self-esteem of native students and teach students that racial stereotyping is acceptable. In 2005, the American Psychiatric Association publicly called for “the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots” because they teach “misleading, and too often, insulting images of American Indians.” More than 100 civil rights, educational, athletic and scientific organizations have made similar statements.

The last remaining schools in Maine with indigenous mascots gradually dropped them over the last few years, with Skowhegan being the last holdout. With this change, Maine is poised to become the first state in the nation to successfully end the harmful use of indigenous mascots in schools.

In December the ACLU joined a growing chorus of voices, led by tribal representatives, calling on the school board to retire the mascot. The group sent a letter to the school board and twice testified at public hearings on the subject.

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