When students at Wiscasset High School in Maine begin a new school year, the racist “Redskins” symbol won’t be their mascot anymore.
The residents of Regional School Unit 12, (RSU12) the school board that oversees Wiscasset High School (WHS) and seven other schools in the area, have voted to replace the Redskins mascot at WHS with “Wolverines,” the Lincoln County News reported.
The name Wolverines received 143 votes from RSU12 residents in an online poll at the school district’s website. The poll ended April 7, according to WHS educator Deb Pooler. “The votes were counted legally. If someone voted incorrectly or twice, that vote was thrown out,” Pooler told the Lincoln County News.
Other choices for a new mascot name were the “Red Hawks” and the “Rebels,” which received 118 and 83 votes, respectively. The Wolverine mascot and name will be implemented when school opens in September. The new mascot name will end more than 60 years during which WHS used the offensive Redskins name.
The board voted to ban the use of the Redskins name and symbol from all eight schools in its jurisdiction in January, and then voted 10-9 on March 17 to reinstate it until the end of the school year. The decision came after a contentious two-hour debate among board members and the public.
The Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission asked the school board to stop using the Redskins mascot last fall, because it’s racist and offends Indian people, particularly Maine’s Wabanaki nations of Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmacs. The request gave rise to months of contention and opposition from some people with an entrenched attachment to the Redskins “tradition.” Supporters of the name change said they hope the new mascot will put an end to the arguments. But supporters of the racist image and name have said they will continue the battle. “There will be no further Redskins, but in my heart I will always be a Redskin. I’m gonna continue to fight the fight. I don’t think we’ve been heard,” Wiscasset resident Chet Grover said in March when the school board decided the Redskins name will continue only until the end of this school year.
The selection of a new mascot name comes weeks ahead of a deadline set last fall by the board of education. The board had formed and directed a Mascot Committee to present a new symbol no later than May 12. All representations of the Redskin mascot at WHS will be removed before August 1, but the school’s historical trophies and awards will remain.
The school has set a contest for Wiscasset students to design a Wolverine logo. The 2011 homecoming weekend will revolve around the new mascot, Pooler told the Lincoln County News.
The report also noted that wolverines are the largest land-dwelling species of the weasel family. They’re found mostly in remote parts of the northern boreal forests and the greatest number of wolverines on the continent is found in Alaska. An employee from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife told the Lincoln County News that she did not think a wolverine had ever been sighted in Maine but could not confirm either way.
The wolverine symbol is widely used in popular culture for sports mascots and other purposes.
The University of Michigan uses the wolverine as its mascot and Michigan is known as the “Wolverine State,” although the animal is rare in the state. Wolverine is also the brand name of a line of rugged outdoor boots, shoes and clothing. Perhaps the most well known use of the wolverine is the Marvel Comics superhero whose amazing self-healing powers allow him to recover from any wound, disease or poison and slows the aging process.