Sqauw Sachem

This mural hangs above the main desk at the Winchester Public Library depicting Squaw Sachem meeting with colonial settlers.

WINCHESTER - At Tuesday's School Committee meeting, the committee voted unanimously to remove the Sachem name/logo.

The meeting began with a discussion of the logo change and several members of the public spoke about this proposed change. Tim Nolan, Winchester resident, said he is aware that he has a white privileged lens that he’s lived his life through, so in issues like this he seeks education as a way to remedy that and understand. Nolan introduced a guest named Mark OneWolf Yancey, a Chihene N’de, which means Chiricahua Apache, also called The Red Paint people, and also a member of the Board of Directors at the Native American Guardians Association, who spoke in favor of the change at Tuesday’s Zoom School Committee meeting.

He mentioned their goal as Native Americans in the country is to listen to the opposition and understand where they are coming from. He noted the schools are not teaching their students about Native Americans properly.

He commented, “If we want to solve this problem of ignorance, then we need to infuse education to solve these problems."

Yancey is not for just taking away the logo and the name without putting any education in place. He reported they have seen time and time again where schools retire the mascot but then do not follow up with any education. Yancey would like to see real change happen which starts with education and cultural sharing to break down stereotypes and diminish prejudices. He wants to bring people together to reduce the cause of these problems. He believes the solution does not lie in censorship but rather education.

Superintendent Judy Evans stated the logo has been something brought to her attention for the past five years, whether it be by students, teachers, or community members. She has discussed this issue with School Committee members over the years, as well. She added how they have to listen to students and community members to make the right decision moving forward.

She wants to engage the community in this discussion about what would be a possible replacement for the mascot. She added some students have already put forth some ideas about how that might happen. She also wants to commit to a process that doesn’t erase, but that educates on the use of the Sachem logo. She noted making sure that gets incorporated is important.

She further noted that “we have an obligation to our students to educate them widely so that they can make choices themselves about history and their own actions moving forward.”

School Committee member Michelle Bergstrom, said this will be a process of change where they will need to look at uniforms, the logo on the high school, and how the children talk to each other about the change as well as model that for them as parents and community members.

School Committee member Zeina Marchant made two motions, one to remove the logo and the second for the Superintendent of Schools to develop for School Committee review, a transition plan for a new Winchester High School logo and/or mascot including scope, cost and timeline.

The plan should be inclusive of the school and parent community and honor the achievements of the students, both past and present. These two motions were both approved and voted on unanimously at the close of the meeting.

Chair of the School Committee, Brian Vernaglia remarked how “this is the beginning of a new process, a process of an inclusive name and logo for Winchester.”

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