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Boonsboro mascot likely to stay

February 28, 2002|By LAURA ERNDE

Boonsboro High School probably will get to keep its Warrior mascot despite a charge that it's racist, education officials told Washington County lawmakers Wednesday.

Washington County Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said Wednesday she doesn't think the mascot is insensitive to American Indians.

"I think it's in the eyes of the beholder," Morgan said.

Although the Washington County Board of Education has not discussed it formally, board members said Wednesday they are leaning toward standing by the Warrior nickname because of strong community support.

"I don't think that it's insensitive or discriminatory. If we had students showing up in war paint doing the tomahawk chop it might be something to question," said Board President Edward Forrest.

Richard Regan, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs member who has filed a complaint about the name, said he wasn't surprised by the attitude.

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Regan, a Lumbee Indian, said he wasn't giving up on his fight. Using Indian nicknames as mascots is no different than giving a team a nickname that would be a racial slur, he said.

"Put the emotions down and think about it from an objective point of view. You'll see that it's wrong," he said.

Forrest said the board probably will discuss the mascot issue publicly and would not object to hearing from Regan, who in earlier reports called Washington County "the poster child for racism."

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, is asking Gov. Parris Glendening to remove Regan from the Commission.

In a letter to Glendening mailed Wednesday, Shank called Regan's remarks "abusive and derogatory."

"It is very clear to me that Mr. Regan has an ideological ax to grind and can not be permitted to besmirch the good name of this Commission any longer," he wrote.

Glendening spokesman Michael Morrill said Regan could be removed only for malfeasance, not for expressing his opinion.

"That's why they're on the Commission, to have opinions," he said.

Regan's statements about the Boonsboro Warriors don't reflect the governor's opinion, Morrill said.

Shank said he has received calls from constituents in Boonsboro who are upset by Regan's complaint.

There is an e-mail joke going around that the mascot will renamed the Boonsboro cantaloupe because a lot of that melon is grown in the area, Shank said.

The Warrior mascot was chosen in 1959 to honor the courage, dignity and strength of American Indians, Shank said.

A totem pole in front of the school was restored by someone of American Indian descent, he said.

Regan said the county isn't honoring American Indians because there aren't any in positions of power.

"To me that's a hypocritical stance. What they're doing in Washington County is no different than racial cross-dressing," he said.

The totem pole, a cultural tradition only associated with Alaskan tribes, reveals the school's cultural misperceptions about Indians, he said.

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