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Petition to keep MHS mascot has nearly 4K names

Sometimes, it isn’t all sociology or political correctness.

Sometimes, it’s just your school, and all its traditions therein — no more, no less.

And sometimes, you have to throw a flag on Cancel Culture.

Almost  4,000 people said that, Monday afternoon.

By 2 p.m., 3,903 names had been electronically affixed to a petition in support of the signature Mohigan mascot of Morgantown High School.

And the clicker was still going.

The digital groundswell was in response to an earlier petition, calling for the removal of the mascot and its other Native American-themed trappings.

Backers of that earlier document say schools, and their teams that use such imagery, are fostering cruel stereotypes and caricatures onto an indigenous people long oppressed — even if that  wasn’t the intent as the teams were first being fielded.

The drum major of Morgantown High’s Red and Blue Marching Band, for example, traditionally wears a full headdress.

And the line of majorettes that follow wear fringes and feathered headbands, while doing choreography that sometimes suggests Native American dance or affectations.

Criticism of the MHS Mohigan may be new, but the argument has been around in earnest since 1968, when the National Congress for American Indians began speaking out for the removal of such mascots from sports.

Now, 52 years later, there’s an NFL football team in the nation’s capital known (officially) as “The Washington Football Team.”

That’s only a placeholder, though, management of the now-former Redskins say, until the team, and everyone associated with the issue, can come up with something more inclusive.

But that’s  D.C. — not the school on Wilson Avenue, in Morgantown.

 One school’s mascot is another’s …

Graduates and boosters of that school on Wilson will point to its diverse student body (given the international reach of WVU’s faculty and medical community) and that it regularly resides at the top of academic performance lists regularly chronicled by U.S. News & World Report, and other national outlets.

They’ll sing the praises of that marching band, also nationally known, which has performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving and Rose Bowl parades — headdress, fringes and all.

And they’ll talk about the very region steeped in indigenous culture: The river that bisects Morgantown and Westover is the “Monongahela,” a Native word meaning “falling banks.” 

After all, they said, a school that in the late 1920s formed its name by abbreviating its yearbook, the Morgantown High Annual — and then drew on the name of the Mohican tribe because of its sound-alike familiarity — had to be paying at least a measure of respect.

How could a high school with a mascot mirroring that be bad, they ask?

Thus, the voices of the “Save the Mohigan” Facebook page, which went up before the countering petition.

Many of those on its message board have multigenerational ties to MHS. 

One woman who posted comes from three generations of Morgantown High grads. The family matriarch went there carrying the lineage leading to the current debate.

“My grandma was part Native American,” the woman posted. “She was Morgantown High-proud and honored with its name, headdress and traditions.”

 The last of the Mohigan?

Eddie Campbell Jr., Mon’s superintendent of schools, told The Dominion Post earlier the district wasn’t going to dismiss any facet of the argument on either side, should the discussion move to an actual name change.

MHS Principal Paul Mihalko said the same, when he weighed in on another site for parents.

“We appreciate recent concerns surrounding the school’s Mohigan name and imagery and are currently engaged in continuing internal discussions regarding strategies to address these issues,” the principal posted.

“Considerations including Morgantown High’s tradition of academic excellence, its history and longstanding ranking among the state’s most respected high schools will inform any decisions resulting from these discussions.”

Many others on the “Save the Mohigan” site, meanwhile, called for public forums talking about Native American culture, and cultural awareness in general.

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