AMESBURY — The Amesbury High School Indian will soon be a thing of the past after the school committee voted unanimously to retire the mascot Monday night.
The school board set up a mascot review board in May which voted 9-2 last month to retire the Indian. Last week, Superintendent Elizabeth McAndrews also recommended phasing out the mascot.
But the school board, the final arbiter on the matter, voted to accept McAndrews’ recommendation Monday night.
Committee member Peter Hoyt read a prepared statement before the final vote.
“It’s not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination,” Hoyt said.
“I am unconditionally committed to every child ultimately,” he added. “To that end, if any members of the Amesbury school community and the community at large are offended by our mascot, the Amesbury Indian, it is time for a change.”
Abigail Jurist Levy, a member of the committee, said she appreciated the calls to keep the Indian, but had to vote for change.
“The evidence is clear that the use of Native American images as mascots is disrespectful to Native American peoples, their history and culture, and harmful to Native American children,” Jurist Levy said. “If we choose to be blind to this evidence, then we are living the definition of implicit bias.”
Committee member Elaine Bucher said she was a mother of three daughters who played various sports as Amesbury Indians.
“Changing mascots doesn’t change that experience for them,” Bucher said. “It doesn’t change their pride in having played sport for Amesbury.”
The school’s athletic department is now prohibited from ordering Indian-themed uniforms.
The school committee unanimously authorized McAndrews to create a new committee that will seek a new mascot.
McAndrews recommended temporarily using a simple letter A on school uniforms until the next mascot is selected.
Amesbury High School adopted the Indian (originally known as the Amesbury Fighting Indian) as its mascot over 75 years ago.
Although the school committee voted 5-2 to keep the Indian name and logo in 2016, two members of the class of 2021, Sam Cadwell and Meisha Acevedo, proposed in March that the mascot be phased out over a period of five years. .
Writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.