Amid the 2020 George Floyd Protests for racial justice, the Washington NFL team finally relented to decades of calls to change its racist name and mascot. On the heels of this news, several Putnam County community leaders formed the Tennessee Indigenous Coalition and began publicly calling for the Putnam County School System to change the mascot of the same name currently used by Algood Middle School, which is a racist slur against Native Americans.
The UUCC Social Justice Committee supports this effort. We encourage anyone who is concerned about this issue to join us in writing letters, attending school board meetings, raising awareness, and keeping the conversation going.
How to Help
Sign the Petition
This issue first began to gain traction with a Change.org petition calling for the mascot to be changed. Over 3,000 signatures have been garnered since. If you have not yet added your name, this is a great place to start.
The Tennessee Indigenous Coalition has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for post cards, buttons, billboards, and other ways to spread awareness and build support.
The Tennessee Indigenous Coalition now has t-shirts available for purchase. These shirts can be worn int he community as a way to raise awareness, as well as worn to school board meetings to make our presence known.
Write Your School Board Member
Click here to find out who your School Board representative is and how to contact them. They are identified by School Board District and County Commission District. This information can be found on your Voter Registration card, or using this map. The Algood Middle School is part of the Putnam County School System, so you do not need to live in Algood to have a stake in this issue. A racist mascot effects and reflects on the entire community.
Concerned individuals who do not live in Putnam County may still wish to write to the Director of Schools expressing their concerns, or find out whether there are any similar “Indian” themed school mascots in your county.
Attend School Board Meetings
Consistent presence at the monthly school board meetings is a powerful way to show that concern for this issue is not going to fade away. The school board typically meets on the first Thursday of each month, but the schedule can vary. Check the Putnam County School System Calendar for the next meeting date.
Write a Letter to the Editor
Writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper can be an effective way to keep the issue in the public consciousness, show community leaders that people care, and educate members of the community about the issue. The Herald Citizen letter to the editor policy can be found here.
More on the Issue of Racist “Indian” Themed Mascots
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities. They have been campaigning to remove “Indian” themed sports mascots since 1968 and have an excellent resource on their website.
“The Fight to Ban Native American Mascots Is Very Local, And Very Slow” by Bob Cook. Forbes, May 22, 2019.
“The Other Redskins” by Kelyn Soong, Capital News Service, April 2, 2013
“Dan Snyder Started a Foundation to Support Native Americans. Has It Abandoned Its Mission?” by Jenny Vrentas and Michael Rosenberg. Sports Illustrated, July 8, 2020.
Below is a timeline of articles and letters to the editor published in the Harald Citizen. The Herald Citizen requires a subscription to view online articles. If you do not already subscribe, please consider supporting the local journalism that allows us to have this kind of public debate in the first place.
- July 20, 2020 article: “Tech prof discusses history of ‘pejorative’ term“
- July 21, 2020 article: “Groups disagree on Algood mascot“
- July 24, 2020 letter to the editor: “Keep Redskins mascot at Algood“
- July 24, 2020 article: “NAACP leaders speak on racial tension“
- July 31, 2020 letter to the editor: “‘Stirrer-uppers’ always offended“
- July 31, 2020 letter to the editor: “Redskins name does not show reverence“
- August 13, 2020 letter to the editor: “Group pushing to keep Algood mascot“
- August 19, 2020 letter to the editor: “Work to stop racism“
- August 19, 2020 letter to the editor: “When you know better, do better“
- August 21, 2020 letter to the editor: “‘Redskin’ nickname a racist term“
- August 26, 2020 letter to the editor: “Find name that honors us all“
- October 23, 2020 letter to the editor: “Algood’s ‘Tomahawk Trot’ offensive“
- November 6, 2020 article: “Algood mascot debate continues“
- November 19, 2020 letter to the editor: “Another vote to change Algood mascot”
- January 12, 2921 letter to the editor: “Time to change Algood mascot name“
- January 30, 2021 article: “School board discusses Algood mascot“
- February 3, 2021 letter to the editor: “Removal of mascot erases culture“
- February 4, 2021 article: “Board nixes Algood mascot change“
- February 5, 2021 letter to the editor: “Algood Mascot“
- February 9, 2021 letter to the editor: “Carefully staged event keeps Algood mascot in place“
- February 9, 2021 letter to the editor: “Sick over no action on Algood mascots“
- February 11, 2021 letter to the editor: “Why do you care what Algood’s mascot is?“
- February 16, 2021 letter to the editor: “Algood mascot situation not about racism“
- February 20, 2021 letter to the editor: “Are the Algood Redskins here to stay“
- February 27, 2021 column: “Which ones are the bad guys?“
- March 10, 2021 article: “Man blames racism for vandalism“
- March 10, 2021 letter to the editor: “Abject hypocrisy on full display“
- March 10, 2021 letter to the editor: “An embarrassment to us all“
- April 9, 2021 letter to the editor: “A lesson from Mrs. Geraldine Conner“
- April 29, 2021 letter to the editor: “A sign of admiration, not of disrespect“
- May 1, 2021 article “Rival events debate Algood mascot name Saturday“
- May 5, 2021 letter to the editor: “Mascot is offensive and traumatic“
- May 18, 2021 letter to the editor: “Mascot issue reveals a failure of leadership“