By Lilly Cassidy | Sept. 30, 2022
Two years after the school-wide debate over our mascot (the Mohawk) the Mohawk Council, a club which arose out of a town need and effort to incorporate education of the Mohawk people into our community, have revealed their brand new Mohawk Trail. This Wednesday, September 28 at 11 AM, a ceremony celebrating its opening took place at the practice football fields which is near the entrance to the trail.
The gathering of about thirty people or so listened to Mr. Fallon, Mia Molinari, and Jack Catalano give brief speeches about the trail. The trail, neat and newly furnished with wood chips, stretched off into the woods, eventually leading to the main football field. The entrance adorned a banner reading “Grand Opening” in big white lettering. The location of the trail, while benefiting from being on school grounds, is tucked away and out of sight for most students of Millis High School.
Despite the dividing debate over the mascot, most of those in the community agreed that education on indigenious peoples should be promoted. The Mohawk Trail was made with the intention to see that agreement come to fruition; The sign at the entrance to the trail includes information on the Mohawks as well as a QR code linked to a website for further information. This message was made clear by Mia Molinari, co-president of the Mohawk Council, at the opening of the Trail, saying that the trail and council were created not because they wanted to keep the mascot but because they wanted to educate the community about the Mohawk people, specifically the Kahnawake Mohawks.
“When the mascot discussion started a few years ago,” club advisor Mr. Fallon said in an interview, “many of us believed then–and still now–that the answer was not to remove the name but to begin the process of providing educational opportunities for our students and community to learn about the Mohawks then and now.” “This trail is proof of that commitment. It is my responsibility and the responsibility of members of the Mohawk Council to not only maintain this trail but to also continue to seek more opportunities to enhance our indigenous curriculum for our students and staff.”
Now that the decision to keep the mascot has been finalized by the school board, the trail offers an opportunity for our community to move forward in our understanding of the Mohawk people on which our mascot is based. However, although the opportunities to learn about the Kahnawake are there if students seek them out, they still must be sought out. With the possible passing of a state bill that bans Native American mascots, some students are wondering if these efforts to educate the community will continue to be supported and grown even in the event of the mascot's demise.
“I don’t like the mascot, I think we should remove it. I understand people's efforts to teach about it and I think that’s great, but I don’t think it should be used as an excuse to keep the mascot,” says senior Juliana Pardi, “I’m concerned that if we get rid of the mascot, efforts to educate would also be gotten rid of.” Such efforts are thoughtful and commendable, but are still optional, with many students possibly not understanding what is truly meant when we say, “we are the Millis Mohawks.”
Please visit this website for more information on the Mohawk People and their History