Melrose schools ready to move from Red Raiders want ideas
MELROSE, MA – The process of changing the Melrose mascot is underway.
A survey was posted to the community asking for suggestions for a new nickname and mascot.
“This is only the first step in a longer process and it does not mean that a final decision will be made based on these results,” said the survey mentioned.
The mascot and nickname need not be the same, and the red and white will remain.
The investigation comes more than two months after Melrose High principal Jason Merrill said it was time to drop the Red Raider mascot.
“…We know that the red raider has also been described as a viking, a bandit, and even has ties to a WWII fighter squadron,” Merrill said. “But, I just can’t deny the connection between the red raider or the raider and offensive Native American imagery.”
The origins of the Red Raider and Native American references in the sports program are murky, but have been around for decades. The neighborhood already plucked the feathers from its “M” logo in 2016, an image shaped like a dreamcatcher.
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Disagreements over the departure of the Red Raider have already begun. A lawyer representing a group of residents sent a letter challenging Merrill’s authority to unilaterally change the mascot, saying it was a school committee issue. The residents wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals against their school-aged children, according to their lawyer, Louis Kroon II, who also identified himself as a “concerned resident of Melrose”.
Melrose is just the newest district to move away from logos, mascots and nicknames with Native American imagery. Wakefield earlier this year dropped its Native American logo in a move that tore the community apart; shortly after the school committee made it official, voters voted in favor of keeping the logo in a non-binding referendum.
Efforts have been made at the state level to ban Native American images from schools amid an outcry from Indigenous people who say they are offensive and disrespect their history. A bill, sponsored by Senator Jason Lewis, has been favorably recommended by the Joint Committee on Education and sits on the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Any potential action on this is not likely for several months.
A number of school districts have used Native American references in Massachusetts – itself named after the Native people who lived here. The Massachuset tribe was nearly wiped out in the mid-17th century.
Mike Carraggi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PatchCarraggi and Instagram on Melrose Event. Subscribe to Melrose Patch for free local news and alerts and like us on Facebook.