The New Haven Register editorial page has called on Connecticut high schools to do what Washington’s NFL franchise has thus far refused to do. Get with the times. The Register reports that “at least 23 high school teams in the state have names associated with Native Americans that could be considered offensive, from the Derby and Torrington Red Raiders to the Nonnewaug Chiefs or the Killingly Redmen and Glastonbury Tomahawks. Names containing Indians or Warriors are also popular among the state’s high schools,” the paper indicated.
“While these names may have initially been created with the thinking they were honoring Connecticut’s rich history, they are not only offensive, but keep us rooted in a culture of racism that has lingered for too long. And while a name change may temporarily disrupt the identity of the school and its sports teams, if done right, it can be successful and be used to the school’s advantage.”
The list of team nicknames that are of concern varies. Some consider “Indians” inappropriate, yet the Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball (MLB) have received virtually none of the criticism that has been leveled at the NFL’s Washington franchise. MLB’s Atlanta Braves fans have long been known for doing the “tomahawk chop” at teams’ games, and the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs are not seen as being as offensive as the franchise name used in D.C.
Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford recently told WFSB-TV that the school’s teams no longer officially use the name “Indians,” but as of this week, the schools website continued to feature its parent booster club as the “Tomahawk Club.” At Glastonbury High School, the athletics teams are called the “Tomahawks.”
There have been some changes among Connecticut’s high schools and colleges, as the Register indicates. “Quinnipiac University, for example, changed the names of its sports teams and mascot in 2002 from Braves to Bobcats. At the time the name change was announced, the school indicated that ‘the university community clearly recognized the difficulties of using a name that has the potential to misrepresent and denigrate an entire group of people. And, despite our clear intention to honor and remember the Native Americans once known as the Quinnipiaks, to do so only through athletics was found to be no longer appropriate.’”
In addition, “Newtown changed its name from Indians to Nighthawks. Its old Indian chief mascot had previously been discarded. Hall High School in West Hartford voted in 2012 to change its logo and mascot, but kept its team name, the Warriors,” the Register reported.
Among the Connecticut high schools that have received some attention on local and national websites are those with Indians, Chiefs, Warriors, Raiders, Sachems, Tomahawks, Redmen, Red Raiders and Chieftans (see below).
Two years ago, the Hartford Courant reported that a national Native American rights organization, the Morning Star Institute, indicated that “two-thirds of Native American symbols in educational sports have been eliminated since 1970. Among the colleges that have changed nicknames are St. John's University in New York, from the "Redmen" to the "Red Storm," and Marquette in Wisconsin, from the "Warriors" to the "Golden Eagles."
The unofficial list of high school team nicknames that are receiving attention in the midst of the Washington NFL franchise controversy:
Canton High School (Warriors), Conard (West Hartford) High School (Chieftans), Derby High School (Red Raiders),Enfield High School (Raiders), Farmington High School (Indians), Glastonbury High School (Tomahawks), Guilford High School (Indians), Hall (West Hartford) High School (Warriors), H.C. Wilcox Technical (Meriden) High School (Indians),Killingly High School (Redmen), Manchester Senior High School (Indians), Montville High School (Indians), Newington High School (Indians), Nonnewaug (Woodbury) High School (Chiefs), North Haven Senior High School (Indians), Northwest Catholic (West Hartford) High School (Indians), Norwich Regional Vocational Technical School (Warriors), RHAM Junior Senior High School (Sachems), Torrington High School (Red Raiders), Valley Regional (Deep River) High School (Warriors), Wamogo (Litchfield) Regional High School (Warriors), Watertown High School (Indians), Wilcox Technical (Meriden) High School (Indians), Wilton High School (Warriors), Windsor High School (Warriors), Windsor Locks High School (Raiders).