DARTMOUTH, Mass. (WPRI) — Dartmouth residents will head to the polls in April to decide whether the town should keep the high school’s logo.
But while some see the Dartmouth Indian as controversial, others see it as a symbol of strength and pride.
Sean Carney of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah is hoping voters will decide to keep the logo.
“Disbanding that [logo] would really … be another whitewash of history,” Carney explained.
Carney said his uncle, who’s also a tribe member, designed the logo.
“It’s analogous to honoring the contributions and the achievements of the native peoples that populated these lands well before we did,” he continued.
The town will be holding a referendum on the high school’s use of the logo on April 5.
Selectman John Haran said a tribe member approached him about the logo, which is why he advocated for the referendum.
Haran believes the logo’s fate should be up to the people rather than the town’s elected officials.
“It’s basically asking the taxpayers and voters of the town … what do they want?” Haran said. “It’s a yes or no question.”
Haran said personally, he’s in favor of keeping the logo as is because he knows how important it is to the tribe.
When asked how this came about, Carney said he believes potentially offensive team logos have sparked a national conversation regarding what’s appropriate.
But Carney said Dartmouth’s logo isn’t like the others.
“It’s a tastefully done logo, and really nothing about it is offensive to the native culture,” Carney said. “Just looking at the logo and comparing it to either artist renditions from the time or more historical depictions of what native people looked like, these things go hand in hand.”
Haran said the vote whether to keep the logo or not is non-binding, meaning the results will simply send a message to the Dartmouth School Committee. Ultimately, he said they get the final say.
12 News reached out to the Dartmouth School Committee regarding the referendum but has not heard back.