- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Most of the North East community members attending a meeting to debate changing the high school's mascot name "Indians" favor keeping it, school officials said.
"It was obvious that people wanted to keep the mascot," said Peter Callahan, assistant principal at North East high school in Cecil County, Md.
"They were overwhelmingly in support of keeping the mascot because of tradition," he said.
The meeting on Monday was the second and last public meeting convened by a committee of teachers, students, and community members that will deliver its recommendation to school principal Rosalie Humphrey in early December.
Goodwin K. Cobb III, who was born on an Oklahoma Indian reservation, declined to state his opinion on the issue, but he said he attended the meeting because he believes his view as an Indian is an important consideration.
"I'm in favor of a balanced view," said Mr. Cobb, who lives in Newark, Del., a 20-minute car ride from North East. "If you're not going to present a balanced picture, you should not attempt to present any picture."
Erin Pittenger of Poolesville, who also attended the meeting, said using "Indian" as the team name is an honor. She commended North East's open forum, a pointed reference to what occurred earlier this year in Montgomery County.
Sixty percent of the parents and students at Poolesville High School who voted in May to retain the team name "Indians" were overruled in August when the Montgomery County Board of Education voted 7-1 to set aside the community's decision.
"I was glad to see they did have an open forum where people were allowed to speak," Mrs. Pittenger said yesterday. "It's not the use of these images which causes harm. It's the misuse. North East does not do things that can be construed as offensive."
Richard Regan, a member of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, the agency behind the campaign to end Indian-inspired team names across the state, criticized organizers for not soliciting the opinion of the commission.
"They just discussed it among themselves," he said. "You can't change your mind if you just listen to yourself," he said yesterday. Mr. Regan spoke at the Poolesville community meeting as well as a similar meeting at Havre de Grace High School in Harford County, Md., to debate the use of the name "Warriors."
Mr. Callahan commended the meeting, stating attendees followed all opinions with "thunderous applause," including the dissenting opinions of a female student, as well as that of a female community member who married into an American Indian family and had spent time on an Indian reservation.
He said the committee members are working hard to include the various viewpoints. "We're trying to bring the students into this decision as much as we can," Mr. Callahan said. "We're also trying to get as much information from as many people as possible."
Matthew Cella contributed to this article.


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