Concern over more scrutiny – and possibly a lawsuit – has prompted residents of a town in Maine to rename a private road to something less offensive.
In August, the board of selectman in Wiscasset, Maine voted s 3-1-1 to name a road there “Redskins Drive” after the now-defunct name of the town’s high school. In 2011, the school’s mascot and name were changed to the Wolverines. Recently, property owners of where the road is located submitted a request to rename it “Micmac Drive” to evade further confrontation.
A letter signed by property owners, dated September 23, gave consent to change the road name “to avoid any further conflict or potential lawsuits with the Indian tribes in the state.” They offered Micmac Road as an alternative, The Times Record reported.
Activist and artist Gregg Deal of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe commended the move to change the name, but he questioned the ubiquitous practice of honoring Native Americans by naming streets and cities after them.
“I think it’s a good move to get away from a racial slur for street name, but I still find it disconcerting that they want to gravitate towards something Indian,” he told ICTMN. “It looks like a case of romanticism. Naming a road after a tribe to honor – that seems really strange when you begin to look at the history and relations with the people and even the specific tribes.”
Deal, who advocates for changing the name of the Washington football team, added sovereign nations have the right to decide whether or not they want to be honored in such a manner.
“If the [Micmac] are all about it, I honor their decision and their right to make such decisions for themselves. I do, however, question the constant need to honor indigenous people in weird materialistic and arbitrary ways.”
Regardless that the name “Redskins” is no longer the high school mascot, and given the road’s name is on its way to a change, people in the town of Wiscasset still have affection for the old moniker.
“It doesn't bother me,” Julie Groleau told ABC-affiliate WMTW. “The word redskin – I know some people may look at it as derogatory but, um, it’s part of the heritage of the United States and it’s like a tribute to Native American Indians. I don’t think of the term as something bad.”
Chief Edward Peter Paul of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs told The Lincoln County News he approves of the name Micmac Drive, according to The Associated Press.
The selectman will consider the name change on Tuesday. Representatives of Wiscasset did not respond for comment.