- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 16, 2001

The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs has no legal authority to impose a boycott on the sponsors of a Germantown Little League group for using the team names "Braves" and "Indians," a high-ranking official in the governor's office said yesterday.
The official said the panel has been warned that it exceeds its statutory authority with its vote to boycott the 64 sponsors of the Germantown Athletic Club, but said the panel is within its rights to enact a boycott as private citizens or recommend the department impose a boycott
A spokesman for Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday issued the strongest statements to date indicating the governor's disapproval of the boycott.
"It is not appropriate to boycott Little League teams, especially after they express a willingness to discuss the issue," Glendening communications director Mike Morrill said yesterday. "The governor agrees with raising the concern [over American Indian team names] but doesn't agree with the tactics."
Mr. Glendening, a Democrat, has invested little political capital in opposing the boycott and has declined to discuss the issue himself. Until yesterday, community development spokesman Ed McDonough maintained the commission was "within its rights" to impose a boycott.
When asked to clarify his position on the dispute yesterday at a hospital ribbon-cutting ceremony in Cambridge, Md., Mr. Glendening said, "You're the one who's been doing all those crazy stories." He then referred all questions to Mr. Morrill before being hustled by advisers into a waiting vehicle.
Officials with the Germantown Athletic Club have said they will suspend use of the names "Braves" and "Indians" this fall for seven teams in five divisions while its 3,000 members consider whether to abandon the names permanently.
The nine-member commission, appointed by Mr. Glendening, adopted a resolution 5-0 to boycott the league's sponsors on Aug. 6. Two seats on the commission were vacant, and two members were absent.
Commission member Richard Regan, a Montgomery County resident and Lumbee Cheraw Indian who has been the driving force behind the boycott, has said the Little League's tentative decision to drop the names "Braves" and "Indians" does not meet criteria to lift the boycott.
He has called for written notification that the names have been removed permanently.
Mr. Regan was out of town and could not be reached for comment last night.
When asked if members can be removed from the commission, Mr. Morrill said "the governor won't remove a commissioner for expressing an opinion. He would only remove a commissioner for malfeasance in office."
"I would think that if [Mr. Glendening] appointed the commission, that if he doesn't believe in what it does he should be able to change it," said Troy Barker, president of the 72-team league.
Mr. Barker appealed to the governor again yesterday to rein in his Indian commission. He said he will send a letter in the "next few days" to the governor, local officials and league sponsors to explain his position.
"The message is this: It's not the issue of the names; it's an issue of the tactics the commission used," he said.
Mr. Barker said Mr. Regan approached county officials and league sponsors before bringing his objections to the league.
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 "Warriors." One target was 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 professional 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.
The Indian commission, which has an annual budget of $50,000, was created by the Maryland General Assembly in 1974 to advance Indian issues in the state government and promote Indian culture. Members of the commission are volunteers but are reimbursed for expenses; five must be of Indian descent.
Maryland's 15,423 American Indians make up 0.3 percent of the state's population, according to 2000 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. No federally recognized tribes reside in the state.
Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide