Tribe supports Connecticut City Red Raiders moniker – NBC Connecticut
A small Native American tribe supports a Connecticut town’s attempt to retain funding jeopardized by its continued use of a Native American mascot and imagery for its schools’ sports teams.
The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which has just over 100 members in western Connecticut, this month passed a resolution supporting the City of Derby’s use of the ‘Red Raiders’ moniker and logos that include a spike of arrow and the profile of the head of an American Indian.
The tribe says it supports the use of these images “as a public means of supporting the Native American culture and history of Connecticut’s first citizens,” according to the Tribal Council’s March 15 resolution.
Derby Board of Education chairman Jim Gildea said town officials had met with tribal leaders, including Schaghticoke chief Richard Velky, to discuss the issue. He said the city explained the images were meant to honor the area’s Native American heritage. He also said that the term “Red Raiders” had nothing to do with skin color.
“It’s similar to the Duke Blue Devils, the Tulane Green Wave,” he said. “Over the years people may have lost sight of this, but Derby High School’s colors are red and white.”
Last year, the state enacted a law that requires municipalities whose sports teams use Native American names or mascots to receive written endorsement from a state or federally recognized tribe in Connecticut or risk to lose state subsidies from revenue from the state’s two tribal casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Most of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with additional funds directed to communities near gaming centers. The amounts are based on a formula that involves a number of factors, including the value of non-taxable property within the community. Payments are made three times a year and can total up to $5 million or more for major cities.
Derby is expected to receive $207,304 for fiscal 2023, according to the state.
The Schaghticokes are not contributing to the fund, but Gildea said that shouldn’t matter.
“We shouldn’t choose carefully which state-recognized Native American tribe we decide to give the ability to grant waivers,” he said. “These are all honorable and decent tribes that are recognized by the state and that should be the only litmus test.”
Several Connecticut municipalities, including West Hartford and Montville, have voted to end the use of Native American mascots. Glastonbury recently rejected an attempt to restore the nickname “Tomahawks” to its schools.
The National Congress of American Indians declined to comment specifically on Schaghticoke’s decision, but said it supports the removal of Indigenous “themed” mascots at all levels absent a formal agreement with a nation. sovereign tribal.
“The NCAI shares the unified voice of hundreds of tribal nations, and that voice has been consistent and clear for decades: stereotypical and dehumanizing sports mascots, nicknames and symbols are well-documented harms to Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous youth, and they have no place. in American society,” the organization said in a statement.
Gildea said there was no quid pro quo involved in the tribe’s support of Derby’s bid for statehood. But he said the school district had agreed to work with the tribe, which is based in Kent but has offices in Derby, on educational programs centered on the region’s Native American history.
Cheif Velky and officials from the Office of State Policy and Management’s Office of Governor and Tribe did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment.