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Killingly High to retire Redman nickname and mascot

Killingly’s Luke Desaulnier (10) tries to keep a Joel Barlow defender away in the 2017 Class M championship game in New Britain.

A second Connecticut high school is changing their native American mascot. Killingly High will stop using the nickname Redmen, the town’s Board of Education chairman said in a letter to town residents.

Earlier this summer, the Board of Education in Manchester voted to change the mascot at Manchester High from Indians to Red Hawks in response to requests from students.

“Although, it was never the intention of the district to be disrespectful to Native American culture, we believe it is time to retire the current (Killingly High) mascot and begin a new tradition for KHS,” Board of Education chairman John Burns wrote in a letter to residents.

Burns wrote that Killingly Public Schools had received communications this month from the Nipmuc Tribal Nation in nearby South Grafton, Mass., Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Youth Council, requesting that the school would not use Native American imagery as a mascot.

“Native American mascots, often portrayed as caricatures of cartoons, are demeaning to native Americans and it is our opinion that they should not be used,” wrote Kenneth Gould, Sr., Nipmuc Nation Tribal Chair in a recent letter of the Killingly Board of Education. The tribe sent the letter to the school because they wanted to make their position crystal clear.

“We do not feel it is appropriate for our culture to be appropriated in his way or that we are represented in this way,” Gould wrote.

In the 2017 Class M championship game, the Killingly High football team wore a helmet with a design of feathers from a headdress that an Indian chief might wear.

The Killingly Board of Education is looking for a new mascot and set up a survey for residents.

“It is not our intention to dismiss Killingly’s history and traditions, but to promote an inclusive and unifying environment,” Burns wrote in his letter. “It is our belief that a mascot should be a unifying symbol for all our students.”

In October 2015, Northwest Catholic in West Hartford dropped their mascot name of Indians immediately. The school changed the nickname to Lions.

Canton’s football helmets from 2014-18. This logo is still used on some athletic uniforms, mostly as a secondary logo found on uniform shorts.

Several schools in the state still have native American-related nicknames and mascots including West Hartford’s Conard (Chieftains) and Hall (Warriors), Farmington (Indians), Canton (Warriors), Montville (Indians), Guilford (Indians), Derby (Red Raiders), North Haven (Indians), Torrington (Red Raiders), Valley Regional (Warriors), Windsor High (Warriors), Wamogo-Litchfield (Warriors) and Newington (Indians).

Conard and Hall have retired old logos and imagery relating to native Americans and primarily use letters as logos.

In recent years, Canton has been quietly removing some of the native American logos from uniforms, equipment and gymnasium floor. Instead of a dancing Warrior at center court of the high school gymnasium, there is simply the large letter C in a black circle. That was painted on the floor four years ago prior to the 2015 season.

This logo is featured on many Canton High athletic uniforms, primarily on uniform shorts.

Most Canton High uniforms still have the letter C in a circle with two feathers off the left side of the circle. This logo was also on Canton High football helmets and lacrosse helmets.

More on Killingly’s decision to change their mascot and nickname.

Hartford Courant

Norwich Bulletin

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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