To change, retire or eliminate the Dartmouth High School logo/symbol would be an injustice to the students, Wampanoags and the residents of Dartmouth. I applaud the Dartmouth Select Board for putting the logo support to a vote by residents of Dartmouth in the upcoming April 5 election. The debate on whether to keep the historical and current Dartmouth High School logo has been going on for some time now and has become quite exasperating over the years, especially recently with the efforts of a few trying to eliminate the name and logo.
To be clear, the terms “mascot” and “logo” have been thrown about by both sides. Opponents tend to use the term mascot with negative connotations. The more positive proponents, of which I am one, refer to it as a logo. This suggests that it is an emblem, a badge of which to rally proudly under. Dartmouth doesn’t have a “mascot.” I have gone to athletic events, worked as a volunteer for the Dartmouth High School Band, attended graduations and never witnessed nor heard of any divisiveness or negative stereotyping that opponents of the logo state are happening, or could happen, because of the high school’s logo.
Opponents of the logo suggest that its use produces inflammatory negative terms, such as “psychological harm, stereotyping, stress, distress, depression, hostility and dysphoria.” I have read the abstract of the study often referred to in these stated opinions. This referenced abstract is titled, “The psychosocial effects of Native American Mascots” (Davis-Delano, Gone, Fryberg May 2020). It’s from this mentioned study that all of these previously noted negative terms are suggested.
My concern lies with this study being comprised of a compilation of seven “One Shot” case studies. I am fairly well versed in statistics, experimental design and data analysis, and a “One Shot“ (Stanley and Campbell, 1966) case study can be described: where multiple groups are studied only once, and, their validity falls short of being acceptable and can be disillusioning. The nature of these “One Shot” studies, even a compilation of them, requires one to question their validity and question their potentially misleading results.
While not without merit, the results shouldn’t be taken as a “once and for all” conclusion but should be considered with minimal value. Even with the best run studies, of which Delano-Davis, Gone and Fryberg’s study is questionable, you need to include other variables, such as: history, gender, age of the participants, and/or race to base empirical data on, none of which were readily available online to make even a reasonable statement. As such, the conclusions are consequently minimally in line with validity and/or reliability.
Over emphasis on negative rhetoric from a single study as seen in the Delano-Davis, Gone and Fryberg study should not be allowed to overshadow the positive meaning and interpretation of the logo for the community and should not be the reason for the logo’s elimination.
Since its inception and design in 1974 by Clyde Andrews, a Wampanoag Tribal member and Dartmouth high school graduate, this logo is not representative of colonial, revolutionary, western or Hollywood history. Instead, this Dartmouth High School logo is an accurate depiction in that it represents focus, hard work, unity and pride. It has been carried NATIONALLY by the students of Dartmouth High both Indigenous and non-Native, and they all have brought the logo home to Dartmouth with a sense of pride in their accomplishments. Those positive attributes have been handed on to their fellow students of all races and creeds and indeed all residents of Dartmouth.
Parents have waited at all hours of the morning for the buses to roll in, sounding their horns with the students tired, but bursting with pride for their school and the town under their logo. We have all proudly watched at Dartmouth Pride parades when we tout Dartmouth citizens both young and old, veterans and non-veterans alike for their service and dedication to their community. Finally, we have witnessed at graduation ceremonies of Dartmouth High, where ALL students are recognized for their scholastic, athletic, music and extracurricular achievements. Again, all under the Dartmouth High School Logo.
Vote to keep the Dartmouth High School Logo.
Michael P. Gula is a resident of Dartmouth