Wells reacts to mascot accusations

Wells reacts to high school mascot accusation.

WELLS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

As Wells superintendent of schools investigates a woman's claim students acted racially insensitive towards Native Americans, people living in town are talking about what, if anything, should be done about the town's mascot, the warrior.

On Friday, Amelia Tuplin, a Native American woman from Lisbon attending a football game in Wells said she saw students chanting and whooping and found it offensive.

People I talked to in Wells say that type of display is unusual and out of character for kids in town.

They say this town is known for its sportsmanship and most kids here would not disrespect Native Americans.

Coaches and a former teacher I talked to agree, saying there's never been an issue like the one this woman raised.

In fact, they say there’s been a longtime partnership between the Abenaki and the school system that goes back decades.

On Wednesday, Wells' athletic director came to our Portland studios to look at footage of the game.

He says he didn't see anything in the video that looked like what the woman described.

“I saw a regular Friday night game,” said Pierce Cole “There were a lot of exuberant people enjoying the football game, cheering for our team.”

Harry Tomah a longtime former Wells football coach, teacher, and selectman who is Native American says the racially insensitive behavior isn’t typical in town, and the depiction of an American Indian warrior on logos wasn’t the central focus of school chants and rituals.

“I don’t think Wells High ever really emphasized the Indian aspect to the warriors,” said Tomah.

Tomah does think the town should phase out the Native American references because he thinks it holds Native Americans back from being perceived as anything but 19th century wild west caricatures.

Others don’t think any change is needed and say the town has had a relationship with Abenaki leaders in the state that goes back decades.

They also say they haven’t seen anyone be overtly racist in an intentionally harmful way.

“Never in my life, and I’ve been a resident of this town since 1979,” said Chris Marquis, a junior high coach.

Tuplin has requested a formal apology from the school system.

Parents and coaches NEWS CENTER spoke with say they’re open to having a discussion about the mascot if it’s done in a respectful, productive way. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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