Voters To Weigh In On Turners Falls Mascot Controversy

May 7, 2017

Even though the Gill-Montague school committee in western Massachusetts voted in February to get rid of a controversial sports mascot, some voters will get their say this month.

The Indians have represented Turners Falls High school for decades. After several public forums, the regional school committee sided with mascot critics, who say it's disrespectful to Native Americans.

But supporters of the Indians name wanted to put it out for a wider -- albeit non-binding -- vote. The select board in Montague set a referendum for May 15, while leaders in nearby Erving scheduled one for May 8.

School committee member Marjorie Levenson, who opposes the Indians mascot, considers the referendums a slap in the face.

"I believe it drives a wedge further into the town. In no way does that referendum seek to bridge the divide," she said. "I'm offended by it.

But referendum supporter Jeff Singleton said in an email that the anti-mascot rhetoric is simplistic, and the school committee voted too quickly without trying to win over residents.