Carney: Where Are Natives Weighing In On Proposed Name Ban?
The Massachusetts legislation is holding a hearing Tuesday morning regarding a proposed bill that would prohibit the use of Native American mascots by public schools. But at least one local tribe representative is more upset about being left out of the discussion than about the appropriation of Native names and imagery.
New Bedford City Councillor Naomi Carney is also a Councilwoman for the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe, one of two federally recognized tribes in Massachusetts. Carney said that the Aquinnah tribe heard nothing about the proposed legislation, which is being put forth by State Senator Barbara L'Italien, a Democrat from the Second Essex and Middlesex district, on behalf of 11 Tewksbury residents upset with the local high school mascot being the "Redmen."
Carney told WBSM's Barry Richard she doesn't understand why neither the Aquinnah or the other federally recognized tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoags, were consulted on the proposed legislation.
"You would think if they're going to put forth a bill that is going to refer to any American Indian, they would reach out to their two federally-recognized tribes, plus the many state-recognized tribes," she said. "Where are they weighing in?"
Carney said the tribe just had a general membership meeting recently, and there could have been a discussion on the floor in which people could have had input to take to the legislature's Education Committee hearing Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the State House.
"I would think that they would just reach out to the tribes that are here and send them a letter that says 'Are you offended?'" she said. "If you're talking about tribes in Massachusetts, there are plenty of tribes in Massachusetts (to ask)."
Carney said she personally doesn't find terms like "Indian" or "Redman" offensive, but that a lot of those terms do come from a time of insensitivity and uneducation regarding Native culture. With that in mind, she said she's more upset with being overlooked in the discussion rather than the Native names and imagery that is being used.
"If a bill was going on the floor that's going to point their finger at one specific population, then that population should have gotten a letter to find out if in fact their tribal members were insulted with these names," she said.