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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Natick's teams may be "Redmen" no more



At a practice earlier this year, Natick players wore helmets bearing the letter "N", but their T-shirts said, "Redmen."
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Natick school officials say it's time to consider ditching "Redmen" as the nickname for the district's sports teams.

"At best, the name 'Redmen' is offensive" to Native Americans, said Ted Wynne, a School Committee member.

The school no longer allows use of an Indian headdress logo on official materials or uniforms, and the district has no mascot, but fans still do the "tomahawk chop" during football games.

"The Natick Redmen logo is offensive," said 1997 Natick High School alumna Erin Miller, who lives in Boston. "Native voices have been telling us this for years. Natick deserves to have a logo that they can embrace fully. It's time for a change."

A majority of School Committee members agreed with that sentiment last night, and planned a vote on getting rid of the Redmen nickname for Feb. 26. In the meantime, town residents are being asked to contact School Committee members or show up at their meetings to offer their opinions.

But officials seem close to having their minds made up.

"If we get 400 people at the next meeting urging us not to change the name, it may make it a more uncomfortable decision, but it will not make it less right," Wynne said. "If the name were Natick Yellowmen or the Natick Blackmen, we would have changed it years ago."

Superintendent James J. Connolly said it would cost about $6,000 to change the teams' uniforms to display a new nickname. He said it would not be difficult for the district to make a change.

"I told the athletic director, 'I don't care what you're called, as long as you're winning,'" he said.

--John C. Drake

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