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Editorial: Time for Belmont’s Red Raiders to go

There are approximately 4,000 New Hampshire residents who identify themselves as Native American or Alaska native, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Few if any of them have red skins, or raid anything but the occasional refrigerator.

We don’t know if any of them are offended by the nickname Belmont High School has long used for its sports teams, the Red Raiders. We do know that names based on race and racial stereotypes are demeaning and can be hurtful. That’s why, following an April 16 forum hosted by the student council to discuss the matter, the school and its students should settle on a new name. So should the two dozen other New Hampshire schools that use names or images based on race.

Dartmouth College changed its mascot from Indians to the Big Green in 1974. The perpetuation of race-based names and images in this day and age is a sign of insensitivity or ignorance.

The New Hampshire schools that named their sports teams after Native American tribes like the Mohawks or Apaches are not honoring those peoples or their heritage by doing so. Stealing a people’s name or reducing its members to a stereotype shows not respect but disrespect.

For decades there has been a national push to purge the nation of race-based team names. One effort, Change the Mascot, led by the Oneida Indian Nation, has sponsored research into the effect the stereotypes used in team names and mascots have on Native American children, a population that starts life at risk. Researchers found that being confronted with such mascots decreases the self-esteem of Native American youth and depresses the mood of a population already suffering poverty and an increased risk of suicide.

For traditionalists who believe that changing names like Indians or Redskins is giving in to the forces of political correctness, we say consider the response of retired Merrimack Valley art teacher Dan Dalphonse to Monitor columnist Ray Duckler. A decade ago, Dalphonse was a leader in that school’s campaign to change MV’s team name from the Indians to the Pride.

“What other races are used as a mascot? I wouldn’t want to be the Merrimack Valley Negroes or the Merrimack Valley Jews,” he said.

The first thing a viewer encounters on the Belmont school’s website is a stylized Native American. Now imagine if that image were of a bearded Hassidic Jew, a Mexican in a sombrero or an African with a spear.

The owners of professional sports teams like the Cleveland Indians, whose Chief Wahoo logo is the caricature equivalent of Little Black Sambo, or the Washington Redskins refuse to change their names for reasons of tradition and because big marketing money is at stake. The latter, however, could be forced to change because court decisions that have repeatedly found “redskins” to be a slur, and thus not capable of trademark protection.

Maintaining a race-based sports name or mascot speaks ill of the school and its community. Having so many race-based team names in New Hampshire speaks ill of the state, a state whose mountains, rivers and communities are named for real Native Americans long ago displaced.

Legacy Comments26

Please pardon me, moderator, but somehow a couple/few of the posts have gotten repositioned, and are now out of order. I shot an email to the webmaster with the details. Day-yum, first day without Felice, and everything goes to hell in hand basket.

I had dinner with a Belmont faculty member last night. She told me that the faculty was not made aware of this change. There was no discussion of it at faculty meetings. And is it really any better to keep the name "red raider" but change your mascot from a Native American to a pirate. The mind boggles . . .

Tsk, Tsk, sorry to have ganged up on you conservatives. I forgot how sensitive you can be. Let me just say this here now. There was a discussion about sports teams being called racist names. I gave my opinion on it. CW Moss gave his, then because he doesn't agree with me he decides to delve into the ridiculous talking about pioneers etc. I realized as usual the rational discussion has ended. I was actually disappointed because there does not seem to be any conservative on here that can discuss a subject without veering off to the extreme. As to Miss Rabbit the only shades of grey she knows are Fifty.

tillie, tillie, tillie...You've not only misrepresented my post, but paved over it with condescending ass-fault (yours). Simply put, I feel one needs to have some appreciation for sports to give this matter a fair shake. By your own admission, you don't. Thereby, you probably should've skipped commenting on this topic. Lack of self-discipline apparently wouldn't allow it.

That is ridiculous, If I am a sports addict I should not comment on racist nicknames? I root for the Sox and Pats just like everyone else and if their names different I would still root for them. There is no logic in what you said. I am not Jewish or Black, should I just keep quiet if I hear racist comments? . If I see an injustice or unkindness to people I will comment on it whether it directly affects me or not.

Tom Joad got nuthin' on

As a Steinbeck fan, I accept the complement. Thank you.

so sorry, compliment.

Who are the native Americans offended by this? I am offended every day by many things. In fact, I am offended by EEOC and racial preferences. As a WASP I feel offended almost every day being told that I am to blame for everything. Red Raiders? Big deal!

@tillie, I'm not suggesting the Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, et al, nicknames should/shouldn't go, but it's clear you're not much of a pro team sports fan. I say so because such fans take their team, and thereby it's nickname, pretty seriously. So, for them it can't be cast off with a whim of Shakespeare; "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.". @Hunter_Dan, I have some Native American blood in me, too, but it's several generations back. One of my great-grandfathers accordingly had a grandmother who was 100% something. I tried to find out which tribe she was from by asking the one I thought would know; my Uncle John. But his answer was less than satisfying, "Oh, the old man just wanted a little something warm for the winter.". Too many moons ago, I guess.

Well, you are right I am not much of a sports fan but I think on a scale calling a team that offends a certain group or upsetting sports fans, I think the scale should tilt in favor of the group and maybe any young children they may be trying to educate about their heritage. Also not knowing much about sports, I do know that in the interests of money many owners have moved teams to other states or cities and left fans in the lurch and they just had to get over it. Life goes on.

"Well, you are right I am not much of a sports fan...". You could've stopped right there, tillie. You're not a sports fan. Obviously, life would go on for you just nicely without any sports at all. Point is, you are entirely blind to one side of the argument. Back to it, where do we draw the line? Maybe the Oklahoma Sooners should change their name, too. Afterall, if they hadn't headed west in all those covered wagons, the Native Americans wouldn't have ended up on reservations. There are 28 schools with the nickname of "Pioneers". Should they change their nicks? Same deal. Without them, the natives would still have their land.

For a minute there, I thought I was having a rational discussion with a rational person. Guess going by some of your other posts I should have known better.

tillie, Regarding irrational posts on this site, you really shouldn't go there; glass houses, big-time. The point behind most of yours couldn't be located with a Geiger counter. You're in over your head on this topic. Cut your losses and move on.

Welcome to the World Of Progressives CWMoss. Here is how they roll. If you agree with them your A Okay. But if you do not, you will be name called. You see in the Progressive World there is only one side to any issue, Theirs. if you disagree you are irrational, mean, greedy and basically deserve to me name called. That attitude goes against all common sense, as we all know everything is shades of gray not black and white.

Not a fair comparison. Instead of "Pioneers" or "Sooners", how about "White Bandits", or "White Slavers"? These are more in keeping with the spirit of the names you tradition-minded sports-fans wish to keep. We could go on in the same vein of historically accurate: Brown would become the "Slave-traders". Ole Miss could be renamed the "Lynchers". And these are just for starters.

More liberal guilt and retrospective finger pointing to shame people. If you had your way, life would just be a practice in reparations and hanging our heads in shame. Well, looking back on history is easy. One day folks will be writing things like: "those fools thought that they could really impact global warming" or "they traded away their freedom to stand on principle".

What you dismiss as "liberal guilt" is an honest rendition of history, and an accurate accounting of the facts on climate change. You should try it sometime, rather than just "feeling offended every day being told you are to blame for everything." Then you might not feel so offended by efforts aimed at helping minorities, and perhaps even gain a better appreciation for the fact that you have in fact been helped throughout life--that no one is "self-made". That's an oxymoron in biology and in our paths in life. We can't all be born on 3rd base like Mitt Romney, but most people in the middle class at least drew a walk to get their start in life. You treat everything as a zero sum game--that anyone else's gain comes at your expense, which is exactly what the far right wants you to think--fighting over table scraps. As for thinking that humans "really impact global warming", that horse left the barn long ago. The human footprint on global warming is established science, and the general outlines of what needs to be done to reduce CO2 are also clear. We lack only the political will to make it happen. Your alternately defeatist and denialist claims do nothing to further the issue. Which is the intent of those, like the Kochs, who pull your strings.

Bruce, That may be YOUR point, but it wasn't mine. If I was trying to come up with parallel comparisons, I would have. My point was where do we draw the line on this stuff? In other words, it could migrate from the perception of a racist nickname (Red Raiders) to an objection over one that represents the demise of the same sect. My example was the Sooners/Pioneers displacing the Native Americans. There are others, obviously. But hey, thanks for waking up "The Pride of Epsom". No doubt she'll be back in here once she feeds the cat.

Well, you nailed it. "Pride of Epsom", well seems as if you are from Epsom, I am not but I know folks who are. Perhaps the "Bard of Epsom" is more the general opinion.

I don't know how many Indians are bothered by the name here in NH, but I have seen many Indian leaders on tv very bothered by the Washington Redskins' name.If it bothers some people then it should be changed. What is the big deal? As Shakespeare would say, "what's in a name?" Will they not play as well if the name is changed? Will they play better?

This Native American(1/16 Cherokee) has no problem with names like this. In fact, a great many(if not most) Native Americans don't have a problem with names like this. It appears that only those who suffer from white guilt do. What we did to the Native peoples of North America was wrong. It should not have happened. But we cannot go back in time before the 1800s. Changing the names of a few sports teams does nothing for the plight of today's Native Americans. It's merely a political ploy.

I seldom agree with you Dan but you hit it out of the park with this comment. You nailed it!

The Monitor is 100% right--the racist mascots should have been gone long ago. It's easy for a vocal majority to ignore or belittle a minority. We should know better than to keep doing it. For people on the fence, I recommend "In Whose Honor," a documentary on PBS.

Next thing you know Ebb Tide's lawyer will be demanding Concord High School change its nickname.

Is this just a juicy journalistic topic or has a "Red Raider" amongst the 4000 native Americans in NH come forward to create this issue. Is the world so vacant with REAL issues that this rag cant find a worthy topic. Is this question of mascots so impelling that we need to conduct a healthy debate? The answer to the above questions is a resounding NO ! The Liberals playbook ( and this rags) is to dwell in a world of white racism to demonize Conservatives by using non-existent racism to construe conservatives core beliefs to be akin to the plague. Felice may be gone but it is obvious that you can paint stripes on a horse but it does not make it a zebra.

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