- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

About two dozen Poolesville, Md. residents rallied in front of their town's high school last night before the football team's first game to defend their heritage and their "Indians."
For residents of the town of 5,100, it was an opportunity to respond to the Montgomery County Board of Education's decision late last month to override Poolesville's community vote to retain the nickname "Indians."
"Our story really isn't out there yet" said Erin Pittenger, spokeswoman for the Citizens for Poolesville Democracy, which organized the rally. "We eventually just want our voice heard."
The crowd on hand for the rally in front of the school heard lots of support from other Poolesville residents passing by the football game behind the building.
County Council member Nancy Dacek, who openly questioned whether the name change would ultimately lead to teams called the "Daisies" or the "Snowpersons," came by to "show support for the community."
"I think they did the right thing," Mrs. Dacek, a Republican, said.
Town Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski gathered signatures for a petition he plans to present to the school board, saying the community was denied their right to prepare an "appropriate presentation" before the board acted.
"Erin [Pittenger] and I will be testifying before the board of education on Tuesday to ask them to reverse their decision," he said.
For last night at least, the name was everywhere from football uniforms, hats and T-shirts to the giant water tower adjacent to the field where the slogan "Go Indians!" looms defiantly.
Several people wore T-shirts that read "Poolesville Indians: Forever the name" and red, white and blue ribbons representing their disenfranchisement.
After two community meetings at Poolesville High School in May, parents and students voted 493-321 to retain the "Indian" name and logo, which depicts an Indian wearing a ceremonial headdress. But the school board, which is made up of officials elected from throughout Montgomery County, overturned the local vote at its Aug. 28 meeting, deciding on a 7-1 vote that the team name was inconsistent with its policy on human rights.
Darlene Smith, an 18-year Poolesville resident who opposes changing the team name, described how her son, Kevin, a student at Poolesville High was killed in an automobile accident last year.
"We buried him in his football jersey," she said. "They think we're making fun of them?"
County school board members said they considered the town's vote in their decision but were not bound by it.
The board ordered the changes made by the beginning of school next year and authorized an estimated $80,000 to replace the school's letterhead, uniforms and gymnasium floor.
Jeff Meyer, who has four children who went to the high school and two on the way, said the reason Poolesville won't be the "Indians" anymore could be summed up in four words: "Big government, small town."
The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, which urged the board to force the school to change its name, has fought since February to strip sports teams of Indian-inspired 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."
Walter Blacksox, a Cherokee Indian who lives in Bethesda, showed off his tribal identifications card.
He said as long as the term "Indians" is not used in a derogatory fashion and he believes it is not at Poolesville then he supports it.
"The facts don't fit the picture that's being portrayed here," he said. "Does the commission really represent the people they're supposed to? They sure didn't come to me."


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