Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Refusal To Retire Skowhegan Indian Mascot 'Tearing Families Apart'

Professor Charlene Teters, Spokane, a founding mother of the movement to retire Native sports mascots.

The greatest benefit of working to help retire Skowhegan Area High School's team name "Indians" has been furthering my own education. Today I learned about Charlene Teters, an artist/activist who has been leading this work for decades. Later in this post I'll share some of the resources coming my way, mostly shared by people I've gotten to know as a result of doing white people's work to address our systemic racism.

But first a word about that work, and why so many people who could don't join in the call to dismantle white supremacy.

Georgina Sappier-Richardson testifying at a Maine Wabanki-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission hearing. Photo: Ben Pender-Cudlip, courtesy Upstander Project.

For one thing, the controversy is tearing families apart. While Harold Bigelow sits on the MSAD#54 school board and obstructs change, the younger members of his family cringe at being associated with what they perceive as antiquated racist practices.

At the board meeting in my own school district, which is near Skowhegan, they spent nearly an hour debating sports programs this month. This is not unusual. In my experience in Maine, school boards are about sports. They cleverly hide the true cost of sports programs funded entirely by local property taxes; budget line items such as administration, maintenance and transportation have tens of thousand of dollars in sports-related costs. 

Teaching positions are routinely eliminated without debate, but try and cut a sports program and watch board members sit up and start paying attention.

Heck, just try and postpone getting new uniforms by a year and then sit back and watch the fireworks.

At the MSAD#54 school board meeting on December 6, there were no speakers from then ranks of school staff or students. No coaches, no teachers, no civil rights team advisers. Nor did the assistant superintendent, Jon Moody, who is charged with compliance in non-discrimination practices, weigh in. The superintendent, Brent Colbry, felt free to school board members on correct use of Roberts Rules of Order, but then stumbled his way through a complete disavowal of agency or influence on the team name controversy. This is disingenuous of him, and he knows it.

Two school board members are actively leading an online group which has in the past posted threats of violence against Penboscot leader Maulian Dana and her children. Here are some recent posts:

In the very limited worldview of board members like Ring and Poirier, this is a local issue.  The national scope and significance of retiring white claims on Native culture and heritage is lost on them.

Their status as alumna is of paramount importance in their own minds, and it trumps concerns about adverse effects on the children they were elected to educate.

I believe that the root of this problem of cultural blindness is lack of education. So in the spirit of life-long learning, I offer a few resources.

First and foremost, this short video on the historic work of Professor Teters and the forces of opposition she met in her struggle to retire "Chief Illiniki" of the University of Illinois, "In Whose Honor?"

Next, very exciting to this history major, a recording in the Library of Congress of an Ancestral Voices Roundtable on Passamoquoddy culture and language. It was shared with me by one of the participants, Dwayne Tomah, who recommended it as a good source. Part of the description of this recording for researchers notes:

This panel discussion highlights a collaborative initiative to digitally restore, provide access to and curate the oldest recordings in the Library of Congress collections, the 1890s wax cylinder recordings of the Passamaquoddy tribal nation of Maine... Passamaquoddy elders have been reviewing the sonically restored recordings, transcribing songs and stories in their language...
The discussion focuses on several aspects of the initiative, ranging from control of indigenous intellectual property to digital repatriation to emerging digital technologies to ethical curation and community outreach. 
In particular, Passamaquoddy community members describe the critical importance of ethnographic field recordings for sustaining cultural memory, preserving native identity and stemming the loss of language. 
They perform songs learned through listening to the recordings, including the first public performance of a song not heard since its documentation 128 years ago.

Father and child on Penobscot ancestral territory. Photo: Ben Pender-Cudlip, courtesy Upstander Project.

My final offering for today is this excellent teaching guide created to accompany the documentary Dawnland. Passamoquoddy and other Native children were removed from the rich culture documented by the Library of Congress and punished for speaking their languages. In the 1970's. By the State of Maine.

Read this sorry history of white supremacy, weep, and then resolve to help undo these harms.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Tide Turns Against Native Mascot As Governor-Elect, Skowhegan Fire Chief Join In Calling For Retirement

The retirement of the racist "Indian" mascot wasn't on the agenda, but 100+ people showed up to discuss it anyway.
(Photo: Kevin Couture)

Media descended on the small town of Skowhegan, Maine for the school board meeting held December 6.  Some of the coverage was great; notably, local photographers contributed their skills to documenting an impressive turnout by Native people, many of whom drove hours each way to be on hand.

In the run-up to the meeting the board received a letter from the ACLU detailing why they need to drop this discriminatory practice; a letter from Governor-elect Janet Mills calling for the mascot's retirement; and a statement from Skowhegan's Fire Chief Shawn Howard making a particularly good point.

Maulian Dana, Penobscot Tribal Ambassador, had urged the Penobscot Youth Council to come and help educate us about the impact the mascot has on them. Seeing them enter just as the meeting was getting underway was exciting to this old teacher, because they represent the future. 

(Photo: Jeff Kirlin)

Many wore wore red in solidarity with Native women who experience disproportionate levels of violence including rape and murder. One young woman held a sign that said: "We are not your mascots. We are people, sacred, beautiful and strong. Respect Us."

(Photo: Jeff Kirlin)

Maulian's dad, past Penobscot Chief Barry Dana, was there. He looked every inch the proud father as Maulian told the board how frightening it is for her to address them. Threats from the Indian "Pride" group clinging to their outdated practice have included rape, and named her school age daughters as possible targets of violence and harassment. Some of these threats have been posted online and I've seen them. Real classy.

Maulian Dana at center addressing the board holding an eagle feather to illustrate one of the many aspects of Penobscot culture and ceremony that she said are not available for use by non-Natives. 

A benefit of ally work is the opportunity to meet so many people who enrich my life with their wisdom and compassion.

Amelia Tuplin, a mother who succeeded in getting the Wells, Maine native mascot retired, introduced herself. (We had only been facebook friends before and had never actually met.) Here she is on the right side of a photo that Maulian posted.

Native artist Dwayne Tomah thanked me for my advocacy and also thanked my sister, Hope, who was away visiting her grandchildren. He gifted us both with earrings to express his appreciation. (Photo: Mary Callan)

Mary Callan of Suit Up Maine was there and I had fun distributing the popular posters she helped create for the event. They are local versions of the Dawnland posters reminding white people of where we stand, literally.

This version of the Dawnland.org poster depicts a former Skowhegan High School building,
nostalgic for me as my father attended school there. (Photo: Kevin Couture)

We are printing these in 11x17 size and asking local businesses to display them.

A teen leader in Maine's struggle against corporate control of our ground water couldn't be on hand for the meeting but he sent a letter shared on social media:

Dear Skowhegan School Board Members, 
My name is Luke Sekera-Flanders and I am a sophomore at Fryeburg Academy in Fryeburg, Maine. I would like to begin by apologizing for being unable to attend in person this evening, as a four and a half hour drive on a school night wasn’t possible. This “Indian mascot” issue is important to me, despite the fact that I live and go to school in another part of the state, because I want to help terminate institutional support of racist ideology. I am concerned because the use of Native Americans as mascots, appropriating cultural aspects and relegating an entire people to the likes of a caricature or parody, is not a dignified way to show respect. 
For disclosure, in 2015, my mom took me to listen to the Skowhegan School Board meeting where about one dozen Wabanaki people assembled to educate the Board on this issue. I learned so much on that day, more than I ever had in school on the subject. I’ll also not forget how the student leader of the “Indian Pride” group made the decision to not take part in promoting the Indian mascot after that meeting. I still have admiration for his resolve. 
As you likely know, genocide against indigenous peoples of the Americas has been ongoing for about 500 years, with tens of millions of indigenous people being killed and displaced. Although the "Indian Wars" ended in 1890, the last century has seen continued violence in subtler forms motivated by the same deep racism upon which many of the United States' institutions were founded. Although we are generations removed from the soldiers and scalp hunters who were paid by the government to kill and count the bodies of Native American men, women, and children, we live in a society that remains pitted against indigenous people. With such sports teams as the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, we see a consistent appropriation of culture which derides the suffering of generations of native people and reduces it to a thing of entertainment. 
When I was a middle school student, I petitioned our school board and superintendent to have our new school complex named after a well respected local Abenaki woman, Molly Ockett. She was a legendary native healer of the Pequawket, the area that is now Fryeburg. Naming our school after her was a respectful reminder to the community of the important offerings that she, as a native woman, made to the people of her homeland. I wanted to honor her memory in this way so that our community’s children would always be connected with our local Native American history in a respectful way. With the help of my mom, the school's name was kept. However, we do not have an offensive imagery or mascots associated with our school. 
Today, Skowhegan High School has an amazing opportunity to make a similar decision. Keeping this mascot would only do more damage to the broken bonds between native and non-native communities. Skowhegan has the last Native American related mascot in the state of Maine. With the help of the school board, we can rid Maine of the last of its mascots that are dehumanizing and stand in solidarity with Maine's native people. 
I hope that my words resonate with you. As a Maine youth, it is extremely important to me that we work toward creating a healthy future for ALL of Maine's children. Can we work together for a future where indigenous people across the U.S. have their dignity restored, be respected as equal beings and as sovereign nations? By removing the current mascot, you can bring us one step closer to honoring the truth and reconciliation process. Your children and my (future!) children deserve this. 
Thank you for your time and best wishes,
Luke Sekera-Flanders

WFVX Bangor interviewed several of us and their coverage is here.

The Waterville Morning Sentinel's coverage is here.

Maine Public Radio's coverage is here.

The story was poorly covered by WGME which aired a segment showing only repeated clips of the offensive imagery plus an interview with one white man saying he has been bullied because he supports keeping the mascot.

Wow, and they call the ACLU of Maine snowflakes.

Video of the entire meeting can be seen here. (Much of what was said by the school officials and by the public was inaudible because the district provided no microphones.) Thanks, Somerset Community TV 11 !

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

School Board Director Cites 'Dark Perspective' In Native Dad's Conversation About Racist Mascot

Below is the letter I sent to the superintendent and board chair in charge of Skowhegan Area High School's racist mascot, the "Indian." Native leader Penobscot Chief Barry Dana is the dad referred to, and his teen daughter grew up to be the Penobscot Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana. Both will be at the board meeting this Thursday, December 6 at 7pm at the Skowhegan Area Middle School cafeteria.

TO: Brent Colbry ,
Dixie Ring

Dear Superintendent Colbry and Board Chair Ring,

The following post to the group Skowhegan Pride on Facebook by an MSAD#54 board member who is the group's administrator is circulating on social media.

This post may very well go on to be used by college professors teaching about white supremacy and the blindness it engenders. "Dark perspective" is an interesting choice of words. It is troubling to think that Ms. Poirier has learned so little from serving as a director of your schools. Dictating how targeted groups should feel, and then giving parenting advice about how they should talk to their targeted children -- wow. Has Ms. Poirier read the American Psychological Association's 2005 report on how Native mascots adversely affect all students in schools still using them?

The mascot issue is not going away; that much must be clear by now. Please do the right thing and put your high school's discriminatory practice to rest.

Respectfully yours,
Lisa Savage
Skowhegan taxpayer

Later, I sent these educational leaders news about an educational opportunity for us all. 

The documentary DAWNLAND will be livestreamed Wed., Dec. 5 free on the YouTube channel of the Upstander Project at 5pm. The film documents the removal of Native children from their families in Maine, and the work of the Maine-Wabanaki Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission toward healing.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Frankly Rude Post About The Crimes Of Bush Sr.

 For shame, President Obama, seen here awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom
to known war criminal President George H.W. Bush.

The recent death of former President George Bush Sr. has people gushing here in Maine. Combined with the recent death of his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, it is a pretext for sending thoughts and prayers to a family distinguished in its ability to produce Nazi collaborators and mass murderers

Also, the same gushy people are chiding the rest of us about how "rude" it is to criticize someone who has just died.

Typical comments are that they are going to ignore politics while the family grieves. Why are critics of Bush's legacy being so "divisive" they ask?

Here's why.

Critiquing the foreign and domestic policies of Bush Sr. doesn't occur in a vacuum. The celebrity worship machine that keeps our corporate masters firmly in power goes into overdrive when someone dies. I have now lived through the murderous policies and rampant racism of several prominent white men who are then glorified nearly as saints once they pass on to whatever tortures await them in the bardo. 

And white supremacy above all else requires us to be "nice" in public while turning a blind eye to the violence and suffering of non-white people, offstage as it were.

The mainstream media do a very good job of hiding what we should not see; in fact, that is the purpose of their existence.

A public thinker who maintains and writes for the blog BlackgirlinMaine had this to say yesterday:

"Niceness is...the fuel that keeps white supremacy in place." Yup.

One of the reasons that people want to love on Bush Sr. so much at this point in history is that they love to hate on the crass, rude, white supremacist demagogue who is in the White House at the moment. Bush Sr. earned their accolades when he called the candidate of his own party a "blowhard" and said he would not vote for him. 

Because the spokesperson for corporate pillage should go to Ivy League college and law school and always speak soothing words of politeness while looking dignified and well-groomed. If not, they threaten to topple the whole rotten system.

Almost every problem vexing the U.S. body politic at the moment can be traced back to the policies of Bush Sr.

  • Asylum seekers fleeing violence and economic devastation in Central America.

  • Mass incarceration of people of color, many on minor drug possession charges, and racist policing in general.

  • Destruction of the civil society, infrastructure and people of Iraq.

But let's all be "nice" while we ignore the actual humans who have suffered and still suffer under these conditions.
We got a thousand points of light 
For the homeless man 
We got a kinder, gentler, 
Machine gun hand...
From Neil Young's Bush-era song "Rockin' in the free world"

After all, isn't our illusion that we're kinder, gentler the very foundation of our white privilege?

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saying Native Mascots Honor Indigenous People Masks White Insecurity, Fear Of Competition

Cartographer Aaron Carapella with his educational map, one of a series you can buy to donate to a school,
from the website Tribal Nations Maps (photo credit: Hansi Lo Wang/NPR) 

When white Europeans first encountered indigenous people in what would come to be called the Americas, they were amazed. Clearly these were fellow humans, but they were so healthy and vigorous compared with the whites after a long sea voyage fleeing pestilence and famine in Eurasia.

"They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features." That is a translation from the memoirs of Christopher Columbus, who hacked off the hands of the handsome Arawak people when they did not bring him enough gold. (Source: Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States).

Aside from their physical appearance, Native people appeared to be highly skilled hunters and gatherers. Their tens (hundreds?) of thousands of years of experience in relationship with the ecosystems where they flourished gave them what appeared to be almost supernatural powers as seen by starving white people. Even sustainable agriculture, which had been shared via trade from its origins in Mesoamerica, was practiced skillfully; the "three sisters" of corn, beans and squash supported each other in cultivation and then produced complete protein when eaten together.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, convened to break a cycle of violence between various Native groups of the woodlands, was studied as a model in representative democracy. Too bad the founding fathers-only culture of the whites did not take note that a sachem or tribal leader was respected not only as an accomplished hunter, but as a generous man or woman who was skilled at listening. Also, that the elder women could and would remove a sachem who was not serving the people.

Typical of the patriarchal culture of the invaders, Native women were demeaned with an insulting nickname I won't repeat here while Native males were exalted with the mythic stereotype "braves."

Inauthentic portrayals of Native people began to ornament consumer products -- in much the same way that Australian white colonists created and used images of the indigenous people of their continent. 

"Aboriginalia" collected and repurposed by Tony Albert, Ybarra conceptual artist,
for his show "Visible" at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia, 2018

I've written before about the idea that fear of competition is what drives xenophobia in the U.S. today.

Colonizers are eternally insecure.

The very ground they stand on is contested. They often starve or go mad. They sometimes die out before their germs can infect the Natives, even if the colonizers distribute contaminated items from the biological warfare arsenal of attempted genocide. They are "terrified Inhabitants" battling an insurgency that seems to materialize from nowhere, a forest where "every Tree is become an Indian" (from Col. Henry Bouquet's letter to Gen. Jeffrey Amherst, 1763).

Can't beat 'em?

Create images of indigenous people that colonizers can consume like cannibals. Give them demeaning nicknames like Redskins, a reference to the blood running from their heads that were scalped by bounty hunters

Make up stuff about them. Keep telling yourself this makes you stronger; hope that's true.

"6 Misconceptions About Native American People" Teen Vogue on YouTube

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Indigenous Children Gassed At The Border, Mocked At Football Games

I woke this morning intending to update readers on progress in pressuring Skowhegan Area High School to retire its racist team name/mascot, which some call Pretendians.

Yesterday I was contacted by three women: a news director at Maine Public Radio, an attorney from the Maine ACLU, and a leader of Suit Up Maine (formed to "promote equity and equality in civil rights, social justice, health care, the environment, education, the economy, and other areas that affect the lives of all people"). All three expressed interest in the school board meeting coming up on December 6. The facebook event to organize support for Native people in Maine calling for change has 161 people interested and 31 saying they plan to attend as of this morning.

Mockery of indigenous culture and history is commonplace in the U.S. right down to the present moment. Dehumanizing people is foundational to genocide as students of the Holocaust or ethnic cleansing in Rwanda know. Jewish people were compared with rats and referred to as vermin; Tutsi people were referred to as cockroaches. Then, they were slaughtered.

All hate crimes are preceded by hate language is what I told the school board at their November meeting. 

Which brings us to the gassing of asylum seekers -- many of whom are indigenous children -- at the U.S. border with Mexico.

The demagogue with bad hair in the White House tweeted yesterday that many of those being gassed are "stone cold criminals." To say that he offered no evidence to support his claim would just be describing government by tweet as we have come to know it.

When the point is to demonize the Other who allegedly threatens our collective safety, empty threats are far more effective than facts.

The white supremacist culture of the U.S. has built an entire industry characterizing itself as the anti-Nazis. Most of that culture is war porn where beaches are stormed, buddies are glorified, and concentration camps are liberated by the "good guys" (that would be us). A zillion books and movies enshrine the national myth of violent "Christian" saviors. My friend Bruce Gagnon examined this myth yesterday in a blog post: "Was there an ideological contamination from the Nazis?"

Who now has the courage to speak up and say:

The U.S. imprisons thousands of children in concentration camps in Texas right now. 

The militarized U.S. Border Patrol is attacking children and their families fleeing violence in Central America that the U.S. creates and funds.

Brown citizens are being stripped of their passports even if they earned citizenship via enlistment in the U.S. military.

White militias are massing on the border with Mexico threatening refugees with further violence if they dare to apply for asylum in the U.S.

White supremacy is a disease. Mocking Native people and harming their children are symptoms of moral sickness. Claiming you do so in the name of Christ is ludicrous.

Silence is complicity in these crimes from here on out. 

There's a lot of historical precedent for that, too.

(Special thanks to Hope Savage for all the good meme shares.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Mom Of Teen Athlete On Changing Skowhegan's Team Name: Let's Move Forward...For The Sake Of The Kids

Skowhegan High School alumna Tamarleigh Grenfell stood outside a school board meeting in 2015 calling for change.

I am pleased to share this guest post by Julie Cooke, Skowhegan Area High School booster, based on her remarks to the school board on November 15, 2018. I added the visuals.

I think my daughter was in middle school when I remember first hearing about the requests from some Native people to change the Indian mascot. I regret that I didn't take the time to think too much about it, but there was a lot of material swirling about on social media and I did participate in sharing my thoughts. I remember it started with words that were something like "I don't really care a whole lot about this issue but…".

Ugh. (*slaps self in the forehead). I went on to say that my overall gut feeling was that

if Native people were stepping forward to express being hurt by this, then I did not want to be one of the people doing the offending.

At that time I didn't really understand why they were hurt by it. It didn't matter to me. I didn't need a reason. It was as simple as that. After all, being a former three sport athlete and graduate from Skowhegan High School, I reflected back on some of my experiences at that time and fighting against sexism in athletics. I was fortunate to have, in my opinion, strong ethical activists in my family who weren't afraid of fighting for what is right. (*heart swells).

No pretendians in this archived news clipping about Mark Savage and the undefeated, untied
Skowhegan football team of 1951. So much for tradition and heritage claims.
I could go into all the political and civil reasons that I learned to understand about this issue - how it is an example of dehumanization and oppression. Instead, I thought I would share a little about the experience of a student athlete, attending high school in the middle of it all. My daughter entered the Skowhegan High School about a year after this Indian mascot issue surfaced. By that time I had had several conversations with my mother and others, read articles, observed other communities all over the country changing their mascot and was getting a better understanding of the depths of the issue. My daughter was well aware of it as well. She had the same reaction as I, not liking the idea of hurting others. She did have a strong presence of people who stood on the other side of the issue, but this was her own, instinctive reaction.

That being said, being a 14 year old girl just entering high school after coming from a much smaller school and even some years of homeschooling, she was focused on more personal anxieties. Shortly after school started, she went out for the soccer team and was placed on the varsity team! At this point, the votes had been taken and the school board's decision was to keep the mascot. This was, I suppose, all well and good, but that didn't mean that the people to whom it referred would stop being hurt by it.

A few weeks into the season, it was Homecoming week and "Spirit Day" approached. I personally had attended the booster meeting that discussed ordering T-shirts for the girls to wear to school as a team. At that meeting, I raised my hand and offered that I would prefer that we left the word "Indian" and Indian imagery off the shirt.

Portland High School mascot Kamron King poses with a fan at a basketball game. Photo: Portland Press Herald

A few days later I received a text message from my daughter sounding a little panicked and concerned. The T-shirts had come in and the words "Indian pride", (I believe), and some imagery were present on the shirt. She said that the whole team was supposed to wear the shirt the next day and asked what she should do? She was not comfortable, at this point so early in high school, making bold statements or standing out, excluding herself from the rest of the team...all older girls from whom she sought acceptance.

She was also not comfortable wearing a shirt that went against what she and her family believed to be ethically wrong. I told her to do whatever felt right in her gut. She said she didn't want to wear it.

I was proud, but angry! Mama bear took over. I fired off an aggressive message on the soccer team's Facebook page (which in turn taught me a lesson in itself). I said she would not be wearing it, nor would I be donating it. The shirt was going in our garbage can! The team decided not to wear the t-shirts that day and instead wore a travel jacket that didn't offend ANYONE! There was some backlash and people decided they weren't going to be as friendly to us as they had been , but we, and she, survived!

Gardiner (Maine) High School mascot in action at a football game. Photo from Kennebec Journal by Michael M. Seamens

She is a senior now. She is a three sport varsity athlete. She has been voted by her coaches and teammates as captain multiple times. She has been recognized by her coaches, other town's coaches, referees, and the newspapers, for her sportsmanship and hard work. She has been acknowledged for her leadership in sports as well as in school. She didn't know she was a leader growing up. There were times, in fact, when she was put in those positions that it made her very uncomfortable, but she chose to rise to them and I am extremely proud. Over the course of her 3+ years, we have had many, MANY instances of discomfort regarding the Indian mascot name.

She has chosen to be more of a silent protester. She is not afraid to say what she thinks among her friends and coaches, but she has chosen not to be loud about it. She doesn't participate in any type of activity that she finds offensive despite what others do. She has a softball helmet that her uncle purchased for her 16th birthday which is slightly different than the rest in that it excludes the word "Indians" written across the front. She does not cheer "Indians" in the huddle when the rest of the team does. She specifically chooses merchandise that does not display any imagery. Her friends are sensitive and considerate. Her coaches don't discuss, push, or judge her based on her stand, but still it makes her uncomfortable, knowing she is bringing conflict to light.

She cringes a little every time her team is announced, especially at away games, as the Skowhegan Indians. It hasn't been easy, but she handles it with grace. Meanwhile, I don't share many sports articles that celebrate her success because the papers are littered with the usage of the word Indian, despite their published editorial that the mascot should change.

I have resisted sharing interviews she has done because the interviewer has described her as a Skowhegan Indian.

I don't buy her the things the other kids might buy. I seldom share certain fundraising events that could potentially earn her team more money because the names of the fundraisers, in my opinion, contain racist language that I can't ethically support.

Lisa Savage holding a sign at school board meeting May, 2015 in Skowhegan Photo: CentralMaine.com
In the end, I just can't help but wonder, who would have been uncomfortable if all of this had been resolved years ago? Would anybody have had to go through high school offended or embarrassed or uncomfortable if the mascot were changed to something about which everybody could feel good? What is the sense in perpetuating extra drama that the kids don't need? If this issue, causes discomfort and conflict for my child -- a confident, beautiful, well-liked blonde, white girl -- I can only imagine the struggle it might be for a native child who feels targeted and offended by this.

Let's move forward, once and for all, with empathy and understanding and support...for the sake of the kids.

-- Julie Cooke, Skowhegan