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A town near a Connecticut tribe cuts 'Indians' school mascot

Alan Levine

A school board has voted to do away with the “Indians” name for athletic teams in Montville, where the neighboring Mohegan Tribe has offered to help pay for the expense of replacing logos and uniforms.

The town Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to remove the name. The school superintendent, Laurie Pallin, said she hopes the community sees the school system wants to stand together with the tribe in making the change.

“We don’t want the use of the Indian name to be a polarizing issue for the town or the tribe and we recognize that our use of this nickname is not a Montville issue but a much more global decision," Pallin said.

The Indians name has adorned the schools' black and orange athletic jerseys for decades but the Mohegans, the tribe that owns the Mohegan Sun casino, made it clear in recent years it would prefer a different nickname.

The tribe's chief, Marilynn Malerba, said the tribe and the town have had a cooperative dialogue on mascot names.

"In our discussions with Montville, we made it clear that we appreciate and applaud any community seeking to be more sensitive to the history of American Indians. Montville has always been that community,” Malerba said.

Under a law that passed last year, Connecticut schools that use Native American nicknames and mascots can lose their share of slot machine revenue from the state's two tribal-owned casinos — unless they have written consent from a state- or federally-recognized tribe in their region.

Most of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with extra money earmarked for communities located near the tribes’ Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casinos. The Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns Foxwoods, have each said they believe it’s appropriate to end the use of Native American imagery in team names and mascots.

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