LTE: A new Green Mountain mascot

Dear Editor,

Mascots are symbolic figures adopted by a group to bring them good luck, to promote a sense of teamwork and unity, and to symbolize the attributes that the group aspires to. A stereotype is an oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. I believe that, when an image is based on a person’s identity (such as race or gender) rather than their learned skills (such as occupation or achievements) then they are portraying stereotypes – generalizations which cannot be true for all members of that group.

Our school should be a place of learning, respect, and tolerance. Using an image of a Native American for the Green Mountain sports teams, which reduces a very diverse and living culture to a single idealized stereotype, is not appropriate.

There is no such thing as a positive stereotype. The American Psychology Association issued a statement in 2005 that all mascots which portray Native Americans are harmful – both to the people they are portraying and to the people who adopt them as mascots. It encourages the idea that people are objects, that stereotypes are representative of all members of a particular group, and that adopting the symbols of a different culture are appropriate.

While I am sure that the intent was not malicious when the Chieftain mascot was adopted, it is time to move forward and incorporate our increased understanding of how images affect our students into a new vision for how we want our school to represent itself.

So the issue is not whether the image of the Green Mountain Chieftains is a respectful image or not. The issue is that people should not be used as mascots, because it dehumanizes them. The Green Mountain community should choose a new mascot.


Jen Leak

Green Mountain parent

Cavendish, Vt.

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