Montville – School district sports teams will no longer be referred to as “the Indians” and will now be referred to as “Montville”. Middle and high school logos will not have Native American symbols and will simply be a T or an M.
The Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to drop the Indians nickname at Tyl Middle School and High School, with no discussion or comment among members.
The board delayed making a decision at its Feb. 23 meeting after some of its members and those present objected to the superintendent’s recommendation to remove the name. Tuesday was the deadline for the school board to submit a certification form for its projects to the state’s intergovernmental affairs officer.
The school board had to make the decision after a budget bill passed last summer would withhold $1.4 million in funding from the Montville School District for its use of a Native American-related name as early as June 2023. Tuesday , the council had to notify the state of the district’s intention to change the nickname unless it had written permission from the tribes to retain them.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Superintendent of Schools Laurie Pallin again said the board had not received a consent letter from the Mohegan Tribe. She reiterated her recommendation and said she, the mayor and the tribe had had conversations about it for years.
“In our conversations, we all agree that the value between town, schools and tribe is much more important than using a nickname,” Pallin said. “And we all agree that we don’t want the use of the Indian nickname to be a polarizing issue between town and tribe.”
Pallin added that she also recognizes that the use of the Indian nickname was not a Montville-specific decision, but a larger national issue. She said the schools will continue to benefit from the tribe’s partnership and support, such as helping the district pay for name change fees.
She clarified Tuesday that road and borough names were not under consideration with the decision and that Mohegan Elementary would retain its name after receiving tribal approval.
“The Mohegan Tribe greatly values its relationship with the city, which spans generations to benefit both of our communities,” Mohegan Tribe Chief Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba said in a press release Tuesday evening. “These close ties have served as the basis for an open and cooperative dialogue on the subject of school mascot names. In our discussions with the city, we have made it clear that we appreciate and applaud any community seeking to be more environmentally friendly. history of American Indians. Montville has always been that community.”
“It is not our tribe’s role to be the arbiter for every municipality in Connecticut that makes decisions on mascot names,” James Gessner Jr., president of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said in the statement. “This partnership is also why our tribe committed early on to working with the community of Montville should they decide to make any changes, including helping pay for all expenses associated with any changes. We were proud to learn that the honorific names of schools, roads and boroughs were never considered.”
Malerba added, “Our people and our communities will remain united in our desire to see all of our children grow, learn and respect each other. We look forward to continuing our work and our partnership with our neighbours.
“The city and our school board have been in a thoughtful conversation about this topic for many months, and we greatly appreciate having our neighbors and friends from the Mohegan Tribe as part of this dialogue,” Mayor Ronald McDaniel said in the statement. “We also understood that the use of names and images is nuanced, and that intent matters. I appreciate the tribe’s thoughtful approach to these issues and their input. Neither the city nor the tribe have asked to be placed in this position.”