19
Feb
12

Whither Natick’s nickname

What to do … what to do …

The subject of Natick High’s nickname has come up once again. And this time I’m weighing in.

When the name was changed from Redmen to Red and Blue four years ago, I hardly noticed; I was living in Montana and barely caught wind of it. The only thing I remember was that Doug Flutie was against it. Other than that, I shrugged it off.

But since returning to MetroWest a few months ago, I’ve seen the local headlines of Natick being referred to as the Red and Blue. And I don’t like it. Redmen was perfectly fine.

As a 1986 NHS graduate, I’ve taken more notice to my old school since arriving back in Massachusetts in December after spending the last eight years in Montana. Just after landing “back home,” I visited a longtime friend of mine who lives on Forrest Avenue. It was a balmy day, so we took a walk with our kids over to Oakland Street to check out the construction of the new high school. It’s a bit strange knowing your high school is about to be demolished, but I’m used to this.

The three elementary schools I attended (Bacon, Lincoln and Murphy) are either gone or not used as a school anymore. And Wilson “Junior High” has moved into a much bigger facility.

And when I was a senior at NHS, the building was constantly being renovated. I periodically had a different home room and I remember being in Miss Billett’s trig class and having workers finish off molding at the bottom of the wall. So building anew sounds appropriate.

And with the unveiling soon to come, I’m glad to see principal Bertucci opening up the possibility of another name change. It sounds as if the students aren’t fond of the name. Neither am I.

I know it has been awhile since I’ve been affiliated with the school, but I don’t remember blue being part of the color scheme.

So what to do? That’s a toughee. It appears unlikely that Redmen will be reinstated. I’m not sure if there were any Indians who were offended by the name, but all it takes is one person. And if they’re offended, fine. I have no gripe with that.

It seems to me, though, that keeping references to our Indian culture is important. They were here first, after all. If we get rid of those references, then a part of that connection is lost. And the word Natick comes from the Massachusett American Indian tribe, meansing “place of hills.” I don’t see anyone wanting to change the name of the town, so why the mascot?

A co-worker of mine, who graduated from NHS a short six years ago, offered a solution: change the name to Red Men. Same name but broken into two words, and no reference to the Native American tribe. Not a bad start.

There’s no way to keep everyone happy here. No matter what happens, someone, somewhere will be offended. Should we cave to the minority that will no doubt always have something to complain about? No.

So bring back Redmen, or make it Red Men. I don’t care. If every school changes its mascot from Indian references, there will be fewer and fewer acknowledgements of their culture. That doesn’t seem right. Don’t we have enough Panthers and Cougars already?

I can’t imagine the Natick School Council going back to the original nickname. But if it’s what students and townspeople want, what better way to christen the jewel along Dug Pond that is the new Natick High.

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