Community happy to keep Indian mascot

October 31, 2001|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

Havre de Grace High School students and local residents expressed relief yesterday that a community panel chose to retain the school's American Indian mascot, the Warrior.

"I'd rather graduate a Warrior than a Lighthouse or something," said Buddy Reed, 18, a senior at the school.

Students and residents spoke of the tradition of the image - an Indian chief in full headdress - and its meaning to Havre de Grace since its adoption more than five decades ago.

"I guess it means a lot to all of us who went there," said Amanda McFadden, a graduate who owns Amanda's Florist on North Washington Street. "It's what you grew up with. I don't ever feel the school degraded [the Warrior] in any way."

The 12-member community panel met three times in the past month, hearing testimony from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs and Havre de Grace residents. Harford County schools Superintendent Jacqueline Haas announced the group's decision at a county school board meeting Monday night.

The state commission contended, among other things, that the Warrior mascot damaged the self-esteem of Native American schoolchildren and created a hostile learning environment.

Liz Nemeth, 16, a high school junior who is part Navajo and Cherokee, said she understood the commission's viewpoint, but said the Warrior "is not a sign of hatred toward the Indian; it's a sign of pride."

"I'm part Indian, and I just didn't think it was such an issue," said Nemeth, a band member and soccer player.

At Washington Street Books & Antiques, owner John Klisavage was "thankful" to hear the news. "I think it's great," he said.

"There are major issues that need to be dealt with regarding Native Americans," said Klisavage, pointing out that many live on reservations without adequate housing, clothing or food. Those concerns, he said, override school mascots.

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