- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening distanced himself yesterday from a boycott aimed at a Little League group in Montgomery County by a state Indian advocacy agency that is pressuring the league to stop using "Indians" and "Braves" as team names.
Mr. Glendening's press secretary refused to characterize the Democratic governor's opinion of the tactics of his Commission on Indian Affairs, referring all questions yesterday to a lower-level government spokesman.
Earlier yesterday, commission member Richard Regan, who organized the boycott of businesses that sponsor Germantown Athletic Club teams, criticized Mr. Glendening for not publicly backing the action taken by a panel he appointed.
"We haven't had much support from the governor. That's been very disappointing," Mr. Regan said. "Sometimes you feel so used. I'm appointed by the governor, but when I need him he's not there."
Mr. Regan, a Montgomery County resident and Lumbee Cheraw Indian, said he will press on with the boycott despite the Little League group's decision to suspend use of "Indians" and "Braves" as team names this fall.
League members will decide whether to abandon the names permanently after considering arguments that such words, logos and mascots are offensive to American Indians, The Washington Times first reported Saturday.
Mike Morrill, press secretary for Mr. Glendening, yesterday referred The Times' questions about the governor's position to a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, which oversees the nine-member Indian commission.
"The department's position is that the commission was within their rights to call for that boycott, but the governor and the department cannot support it," spokesman Ed McDonough said.
The Indian commission, which has an annual budget of $50,000 and two vacant seats, was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1974 to advance Indian issues in the state government and promote Indian culture.
Members are volunteers but are reimbursed for expenses; five must be of Indian descent.
Mr. Regan said the Little League's tentative decision to drop the names "Braves" and "Indians" did not meet criteria established to lift the boycott in a resolution adopted by the commission by unanimous vote Aug. 6.
"I'm pleased to hear that use of American Indian [team names] will be temporarily suspended, but it still falls short of what the resolution calls for, which is total elimination," Mr. Regan said.
Troy Barker, president of the 72-team Germantown Athletic Club, yesterday denied that the boycott threat prompted the tentative decision to strip the "Braves" and "Indians" names from seven teams in five divisions when they begin play Sept. 8.
The league only wants to do "what's best for our children and our community" by taking such concerns seriously, Mr. Barker said.
"I think that's going too far," said Montgomery County Council member Nancy Dacek, a Republican who represents Germantown, when informed yesterday of the commission's boycott threat. "I understand their concern a little bit about names like Indians and Braves, but I don't find those names particularly offensive."
The commission has argued for eliminating Indian-inspired nicknames for school sports teams across Maryland, identifying 27 schools in 13 counties that use names such as "Indians," "Braves," "Chiefs" and even "Warriors." One target is Poolesville High School, which voted 493-321 in May to retain the nickname "Indians." The Montgomery County Board of Education will re-examine the policy of allowing Indian nicknames at its Aug. 28 meeting.
Critics of such campaigns to rename amateur and pro teams whether Germantown's Braves or the Washington Redskins say bigoted attitudes, not the names, are offensive and must be changed. Nicknames like "Braves" honor Indians, they say.
Mr. Regan conceded that the boycott of 64 league sponsors, which vary in size from Giant Food to the Germantown Copy Center, is largely symbolic. But he said businesses often are more receptive to discrimination claims and would be wary of sponsoring the league's teams amid controversy.
Giant Food learned of the boycott Thursday in a fax from the Indian commission. Giant spokesman Barry Scher said he sent a letter the same day to the league, urging officials there to talk with the commission.
"We would hope that corporate citizens such as Giant Food and any other sponsors would not be penalized for doing what we believe in, which is helping kids," Mr. Scher said.
Mr. Barker said his league is sensitive to Mr. Regan's concerns but upset with the commissioner's tactics, which he said included approaching Montgomery County government officials and league sponsors before talking with the league itself.
In June, Mr. Regan unsuccessfully argued that the league's use of the "Braves" and "Indians" names violates anti-discrimination policies in an appearance before the county's Interagency Coordinating Board for Community Use of Public Facilities. League teams practice and play games on public school ballfields.
"What feedback we've had has been overwhelmingly to keep the names, for nothing else because he went behind the backs of the kids of Germantown and tried to take our fields away," Mr. Barker said. "We don't have Indian mascots or people doing war whoops."

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