To the editor: Chieftain name, logo will always be linked

I am writing to express my disappointment and disgust at the school board’s decision to keep the “Chieftains” name. I am an alum and former assistant baseball coach for 12 years.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the board rescinding the earlier vote that was in favor of retiring the name due to the board meeting not being properly warned despite the fact that it was warned like any other school board meeting. Even this latest vote wasn’t without controversy, since one member was confused by the wording of the vote and meant to vote to retire the name. So in reality the name should be retired based on the votes. It’s now convenient to be able to say you can just simply vote again knowing that the vote will be the same after two members have already resigned due to the illegality of keeping the name. It often seems like the board chair is making up the rules as they go to benefit what they want and not what is best for the school or the students.

The debate has become about whether or not you can separate the name from the mascot and with over 50 years of that association, the answer is a resounding no. I understand that when this mascot was created it was not to be racist, but as we have evolved as a society, many people have come to the realization that this mascot was created using every racist and stereotypical trope in the book. Many people have also chosen to start listening to the very people who are being stereotyped by these mascots. Many Native American groups have been fighting to not be represented as mascots long before GM was established as a school.

This is not a new issue and this is not the first time GM has had this issue brought to their attention. It does not matter that the definition of “Chieftain” does not say anything about Native Americans. The fact is, GM chose to define it as such by linking the name with the Chieftain head logo. Native American leaders in this state have testified at the state house and in front of this very board on numerous occasions and their pleas for change continue to fall on deaf ears at Green Mountain. I think it’s embarrassing that GM is now going to be known as the last school in Vermont with a Native American mascot or name rooted in harmful stereotypes.

If you think the name and mascot can be disassociated, I would direct your attention to one of the pictures from today’s Telegraph article about the most recent school board meeting in which a community member speaking in support of keeping the name is wearing a T-shirt featuring the retired Chieftain head logo. What more evidence do you need?

I understand the board chair’s desire for compromise as the country becomes more divisive by the day, but you compromise on things like what you’re going to have for dinner. You do not compromise when it comes to racism and creating a safe learning environment for all students.

When people came forward with their complaints in April in favor of changing the name, they presented the board with facts along with plenty of research material that should have made this an easy decision. Instead, the board chose to listen to people who are not fully educated on this issue and think this is all just “white liberals being offended by everything.”

At the most recent school board meeting, the chair stated that the name is “no longer a mascot but an identity–an identity that represents leaders.” Many would argue that by making the tie breaking vote in favor of keeping the name, the board chair failed to be a leader and do what would be best for our students and the future of the school.

I hope that those who filed complaints will promptly appeal to the Vermont Agency of Education in hopes that they will be able to right this wrong and enforce laws that are on the books. In all fairness to school boards, they should not be the ones making these types of decisions. It’s time for the state to act.

Mike Farrell
Green Mountain Class of 2000

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  1. Matthew Gorsky says:

    Mr. Farrell,
    I agree with nearly everything you said. My one point of contention is at what level this decision should be made. This is a Catch-22. If the State forces the change it gives those who don’t agree with the law a talking point on being forced into change. By leaving it at a local level-decision it gives the people in charge a chance to show their character, or lack there-of. However, it also gives them the chance to whinge about being forced into making a “difficult” decision. Either way it gives those upholding racist policy a talking point about how anti-American the law is because they’re being forced to respect minorities, like we’re supposed to in a Republic.

  2. Rodger Parker says:

    I do agree AOE will be receiving many many emails regarding this decision and like earlier they will see the Large majority of Students, Alumni and residents made this decision and the board followed the majority as they should. Unlike our legislature. If anyone took the time to really look into this you would find some of the largest complainers (NAACP) did not follow the proper channels, Why because they have found this so-called law is unenforceable if challenged. The constitution is still working.

  3. Joshua Carlisle says:


    Iam sorry you feel the way you do however i fail to see how anything about the chieftan name or mascot portrays any racist or derogatory incantation and so far to this point no one can show me any however as ive said if the current students and alum wish to change it im ok with that however i feel this is just more woke joke than actual dact based findings and until honestly over the last 10yrs ir so ive never heatd anything bad fact based things about our name or mascot.

  4. Laurie Birmingham says:

    Very well written! Can all of these letters be forwarded to the board? I plan on sending my concerns directly to them and I feel it necessary they read people’s reaction! When I went online to the TRSU website not all of the email addresses were there.