by Alec Semandel (Business Administration ‘22)
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of blog posts written by students in Professor Martin’s NAIS 400: Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies at the University of New Hampshire. To learn more about the Native American and Indigenous Studies minor, visit https://cola.unh.edu/interdisciplinary-studies/program/minor/native-american-indigenous-studies
Manchester Central High School is the oldest public high school in the state of New Hampshire. Its athletics teams are nicknamed the “Little Green” after Dartmouth’s “Big Green.” The school has an immense amount of athletic support, and in 2005 the school’s athletic department was named the best in New Hampshire by Sports Illustrated. The school’s colors were not always forest green; originally, they were crimson red. After a loss to Concord High School in a league championship game at the start of the 20th century, Manchester was forced to change its colors.
More recently, controversies have stemmed from their historic mascot resembling a “Plains Indian.” The New England Anti-Mascot Coalition (NEAMC) recognized Manchester Central High School as one of 51 New England high schools using Indian mascots, nicknames, and logos. The school was publicly questioned by multiple parties beginning as early as 2007, and articles discussing the dispute have been published as recently as 2019.
This petition is calling upon community support in the replacement of Manchester Central High School’s racist logo depicting a “Plains Indian.”
It is wrong to illustrate the identities, histories, and cultures of Indigenous persons as a school logo, as these depictions exemplify and incite cultural appropriation at its core. It is out of respect for the Indigenous community that we call for a replacement of the current logo of the Manchester Central High School mascot.
By showing support for the school community, contribution to the negative stereotype is reinforced. Although supporters most often come from good intentions, the historic underlying discrimination against Indigenous people appears insensitive and can even cause misguided harm.
In 2002, The New Hampshire State Board of Education passed a resolution stating that “the use of Native American symbols have a detrimental effect on American Indian students and sends an improper message to every one of the true meaning and spirit of American Indian heritage.” A substantial and growing body of research also shows that continued use of appropriated Indigenous persons, symbols, images, and culture undermines the “educational experiences of members of all communities…especially those who have had little or no contact with Indigenous peoples.”
Further, the American Psychological Association has provided evidence suggesting mascots and logos of this nature impose negative effects on Indigenous students’ educational experience and mentality. These symbols and mascots have a negative effect on the mental health and education of Indigenous children, as well as the community’s ability to work against the stereotyping of Indigenous people. If we as a community are condoning these negative impacts, then we are not providing the highest quality education we can to these children.
In 2019, Maine passed a law prohibiting the use of Native American symbols and imagery in school mascots. Although the intent of the school mascot was to “honor” these people, it does not mean it was felt by the people who we are supposedly being represented. A total of five other schools in the New Hampshire area are working on changing their mascot name and image. Also, on a national level, teams such as the Cleveland Indians, and Washington Football Team are taking action toward changing their names and mascots’ appearance.
This is an important topic because a school’s mascot is what the community is known by. It is what people see when they look up your school or compete against your athletic teams. Even in the best of school districts, with good representatives of people in the staff, students, and community. Continuing to have these symbols is showing intolerance, poor judgment and objectification of peoples and their histories.
We are proposing a change to the name and logo to honor Amoskeag Falls in Manchester, an important Indigenous fishing spot for salmon and sturgeon. We are looking to change the name from “Central High Little Green” and using a depiction of “Plains Indian” to the “Central High Sturgeon” where we would use a Sturgeon as the team mascot. Below is a suggestion for the potential new school logo.
We ask that you please consider signing this petition in support of the future and the well-being of current and future citizens of Manchester.