WELLS, Maine (NECN) -- A high school in Maine with a warrior for a mascot has come under fire for its alleged portrayal of Native Americans.
Last Friday, Wells High School played Lisbon High School. The Wells mascot is a "warrior," and its logo is a Native American wearing a headdress. Lisbon High School’s quarterback is Native American.
His mother, Amelia Tuplin, says fans in the stands made a mockery of her culture: dressing in headdresses and war paint, chanting and dancing, banging on five-gallon drums, and making whooping noises with their hands over their mouths.
"I found it racist, offensive, and culturally insensitive," said Tuplin, a member of the Micmac tribe. She said warrior mascots, when portrayed with respect, can pay homage to Native American culture. But she said the Wells fans "crossed a fine line."
“This is stereotyping,” Tuplin said. "This is not how Native Americans behave."
She said her son felt embarrassed, but stayed focus on the game. When she walked out of the stadium with him, she said teens and adults continued their calls with their hands over their mouths – making her feel targeted.
Now she wants Wells to change its mascot, and teach the school community some cultural sensitivity. "The allegations that were made were pretty severe, so we’re doing everything we can to go to the bottom on this," said Superintendent James Daly. He said school officials are interviewing people who were at the game to understand what happened.
Daly said it’s typical football game behavior to have fans banging on drums and wearing face paint – and he hasn’t heard of "racist" behavior exhibited at other games.
"As far as our kids' behavior, I think they act appropriately," he said. Daly said the investigation will focus on the alleged racist behavior. The future of the Warrior mascot may be part of larger, community discussion, he said.