One Democratic senator finds herself in an awkward position back home after signing a letter last week calling on the Washington Redskins to change its name because “racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports.”
Citing offense to the name taken by some Native Americans, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was one of 50 Democratic lawmakers who penned a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that said, “It’s time for the NFL to endorse a name change for the Washington, D.C. football team.”
But back in Belmont, N.H. — where she is facing a re-election challenge from Republican Scott Brown — Shaheen has refused to take the same position against local high schools with Native American names and mascots.
Despite her position on the Redskins, Shaheen, according to the Concord Monitor, does not publicly oppose the “Red Raiders” mascot at Belmont High School — where a controversy over the name has been playing out recently.
“Senator Shaheen believes schools and local communities should decide whether or not they change their mascots,” spokeswoman Shripal Shah told the paper when asked about the Belmont High School controversy.
Students at Belmont High School are protesting the name. The school board plans to take up the issue during a meeting Tuesday night.
Superintendent Maria Dreyer said the students specifically want the “Red Raider” logo changed.
“Their goal is to change the image to something other than anything or any facial image related to a native American,” Dreyer said, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
In addition to the Red Raiders in Belmont, there are at least eight other New Hampshire schools that have nicknames with Native American connotations.
Some examples: the Colebrook Academy Mohawks, the Laconia Sachems, the Lebanon Raiders, the Merrimack Tomahawks, the Sanborn Indians, Winnacunnet Warriors, the Spaulding Red Raiders and the Wilton-Lyndeborough Warriors.