NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — In a week filled with debate and heated feelings, the weekend for Killingly High School kicked off with loud cheers in the bleachers in New Britain as Killingly football took on Weston High for the Class M State Championships.
And through it all you could hear fans like Scott Stevens screaming support: “Go Redmen! Come on now!” he cheered.
But off the field, the Killingly community has been tackling concern about what some say is a controversial and racist name for Killingly’s mascot and they want it gone.
The team wore jerseys Saturday with their traditional name “Redmen” written across the front.
At a packed meeting earlier this week, one woman told a crowd we wouldn’t name a team based on the color of another group so why do we continue to do that to Native People?
Board of Ed members had decided to change the name to the Red Hawks, but reversed that, which pleased some fans in the stands during the championship.
“It’s a 100 years or so tradition,” Stevens said. “Gotta keep Redmen alive.”
Another fan told News8 the name is not meant to be disparaging.
“The name was never meant to be an insult,” said Tammy Wakefield. “We meant to honor.”
“It’s all about pride,” she said. “I’m a graduate — born a Redmen and I’m gonna die a Redmen.”
There is an effort to come up with another mascot name in the future and one parent tells News8 there’s a plan to incorporate Native American studies in Killingly Public Schools so students can learn more about Native American history, culture, and heritage.
WEB EXTRA: Sports Team 8 game highlights: Killingly vs. Weston High