OLD TOWN (AP) – Amid a national controversy over the use of Indian mascots for sports teams, Old Town High School has decided to stop using the Indian nickname and is now searching for another moniker.

The school board voted 7-0 to stop the generations-old tradition of using Indians as the school team nickname and mascot. The Penobscot Indian Nation, whose reservation is located on an island in the Penobscot River in town, strongly supported the board’s action.

“Most of the speakers from Indian Island urged us to do away with the Indian mascot,” said school board Vice Chairman David Wollstadt, who introduced the motion in June. “Some of them were quite eloquent. … My feeling is it would have passed even if no one had been there.”

Tuesday’s vote marked the end of a decade-long discussion about the school’s use of the Indian name. An Indian image was removed from the gym floor when it was repainted a few years ago. A motion to stop the name’s use failed in June.

A message left at Penobscot Nation offices on Thursday was not immediately returned. But school board chairman Jim Dill said Penobscot representatives expressed their gratitude after Tuesday’s meeting.

Some students and community members said they were proud of the name, even though its use has been discouraged.

Chloe Meisner, a junior and member of the school’s field hockey and swim teams, said she was not bothered by the use of the Indian name. “I’m not Native American, but I think it was done to honor them,” she said.

Now that a decision has been made, some students said they’re eager to find a replacement nickname. Dill said he hopes that can be done by next spring.

Several other Maine high schools continue to have nicknames with Indian references, such as Warriors, Redskins and Indians. One school, Scarborough, has changed its Redskins name to Red Storm.

The Maine Principals’ Association, the high school sports governing body, has no specific policy on the use of Indian nicknames and mascots by high schools in the state.

At the college level, the NCAA has adopted a policy prohibiting its colleges and universities from displaying hostile and abusive mascots, nicknames or imagery from its postseason championships.


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