- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Washington County is the latest Maryland school system to reject requests by an activist to ban Indian-inspired team names.
Richard Regan, a Lumbee-Cheraw Indian, had urged the Washington County school system in January to change the names of its Boonsboro High School Warriors in Boonsboro, Md., and its Conococheague Elementary School Indians in Hagerstown, Md.
In a May 7 letter, acting Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan told Mr. Regan, a Montgomery County resident and member of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, that he had no standing to make the demands.
"Furthermore, there is no indication from your communications that suggests that you personally have suffered any specific harm or injury," she wrote.
In his complaint, Mr. Regan argued that the names demean American Indians, promote poor race relations and destroy the self-esteem of American Indian schoolchildren.
A spokeswoman for Mrs. Morgan said the superintendent made the decision to retain the names after researching their use and the way other counties in the state have responded to the same complaints. She said the nicknames "Indians" and "Warriors" are used respectfully to honor the dignity and courage of American Indians.
"There has been a great deal of public support for the retention of the Indian name," said Carol Mowen, spokeswoman for the education board. She said the county took into account a flood of emails and letters it received, but it did not hold a public meeting on the issue.
Boonsboro High, which adopted the Warrior name in 1959, uses the profile of a Plains Indian in a ceremonial headdress prominently on its Web site. The school also has a large totem pole outside its front door.
Mr. Regan says the totem pole is exactly the kind of insult he hopes to do away with, calling it a "total mischaracterization and misappropriation of a cultural symbol."
Maryland Delegate Christopher B. Shank, Washington County Republican, applauded the superintendent's decision. He said he is "100 percent opposed to any name change" in county schools "just because it offends one man who is not even part of the community."
Mr. Shank said he also was angered by several demeaning remarks Mr. Regan made about the county, including one that referred to it as the "poster child for racism." In February Mr. Shank wrote Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening asking that Mr. Regan be removed from the commission.
"I was deeply offended by some of the comments Mr. Regan made about Washington County," Mr. Shank said. "I don't think it was fair for him to use his position on the commission as a bully pulpit."
Mr. Regan stood by his comments yesterday, saying that in rejecting the elimination of Indian mascots the county was defending "institutionalized racism."
State officials told Mr. Shank that Mr. Regan, whose campaign has had mixed results, is entitled to his opinion and would not be removed from the commission.
In July, the state Department of Education adopted a nonbinding resolution by its committee on minority achievement denouncing the use of Indian-inspired imagery and asking that the issue be studied in local school systems.
The results of the study issued in February show that half the Maryland schools using the team names have rejected efforts to change.
The Montgomery County Board of Education vetoed a community vote and ordered Poolesville High School to change its name at a cost of $80,000. Formerly the Indians, Poolesville will begin the next school year as the Falcons.
Several individual schools opted to change their names voluntarily, but school systems in Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Wicomico and Worcester counties have rejected Mr. Regan's requests.
But Mr. Regan is encouraged. "Despite not winning every mascot battle, we've got people talking about issues that were never talked about by them before," he said.


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