- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Poolesville residents angered over a Montgomery County Board of Education decision to force their high school to stop using the nickname "Indians" plan to rally Friday to fight the directive.
Erin Pittenger, the spokeswoman for the Citizens for Poolesville Democracy, said parents, students and alumni will protest the decision at Poolesville High School before their football team begins the first game of what is slated to be its last season as the Indians.
"There very well might be a true fight on behalf of Poolesville," Mrs. Pittenger said yesterday. She said she is researching what the community can do next and insisted that the fight to save the "Indian" is just starting.
"Indian" supporters will hand out red, white and blue ribbons during the town's Poolesville Day festivities on Saturday. Mrs. Pittenger said the colored ribbons are meant to represent the town's "disenfranchisement" at the hands of the school board.
Town Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski said yesterday he plans to attend the rally.
"I'll support the community in this," he said. Mr. Klobukowski testified before the school board last week that the school's use of the name "Indians" was not derogatory and that a community vote in May supporting the name should not have been overturned.
"The bottom line is, people are upset, and they're really fed up with this kind of micromanagement," Mr. Klobukowski said. "Poolesville's decision was neither made in haste, nor was it lacking in debate or information."
He said the opposition to changing the name has stiffened considerably since the board intervened on Aug. 28.
At that meeting, the board decided by a 7-1 vote that Poolesville's use of the mascot name "Indians" was inconsistent with its policy on human rights.
The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, which urged the board to change the name, has fought since February to strip sports teams of Indian-inspired team names, taking their case to the state Board of Education and several other local school boards, as well as to a Little League group in Montgomery County.
Last month, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said the commission exceeded its authority when it called for a boycott against sponsors of the Germantown Athletic Club for using the team names "Braves" and "Indians."
After two community meetings at Poolesville High School in May, more than 800 parents and students voted by a 60 percent margin to retain the "Indian" name and logo.
County school board members said they considered the vote in their decision but were not bound by it.
"I don't care about the name change. It's the way they did it," said Dan Radice, who owns the Potomac Valley Lodge at the Poolesville Country Club.
His wife, Sari, elaborated on the matter.
"I thought this country was about democracy. So when we voted to keep the Indian, that was the end of it." Mrs. Radice called the board's subsequent action "despicable."
"Honestly, I think it stinks," said Tim Thew, who graduated from Poolesville High School in 1979.
"They've really got this little community in an uproar," his wife, Connie, said.
The Thews have one daughter who graduated from Poolesville last year and one entering ninth grade this year. Both said the estimated $80,000 the school board has said it will provide to replace the uniforms and the gymnasium floor could be better spent.
"If that gymnasium floor was falling apart, do you think they'd give us money for that?" Mrs. Thew said.
Only 25 residents of 5,151 in Poolesville claim American Indian ancestry, according to U.S. census figures. The town has grown by 26 percent since 1990.
R.D. Hett and his wife, Nikki, moved to Poolesville a year and a half ago with their two children. Both line up with the community on the Indian issue. Mr. Hett said the board's decision showed a "lack of respect" for the community.
"While I can understand some people may feel offended by the name in Poolesville, I don't think there was an intention of being offensive," Mr. Hett said.
In the coming weeks, the Indian commission's campaign against "offensive" team names will shift to Harford County, where school officials say Havre de Grace High School will make a community decision on whether to continue to use the name "Warriors" for its sports teams.


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