WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut town’s school board has changed the mascots of two high schools despite a lawsuit filed to try to keep the schools’ old Native American nicknames.
The West Hartford School Board voted Tuesday night to change the nickname of the Conard High School sports teams from the Chieftains to the Red Wolves and the Hall High School teams from the Warriors to the Titans.
The vote came despite a lawsuit filed on Monday by city resident attorney Scott Zweig, who claims the council violated residents’ due process rights when it voted in February to end to the use of Native American nicknames.
Last year, the state enacted a law that requires municipalities whose sports teams use Native American names or mascots to receive written endorsement from a state or federally recognized tribe in Connecticut or risk to lose state subsidies from revenue from the state’s two tribal casinos, The Mohegan Sun. and Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Most of Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns receive a grant from the Mashantucket Pequot/Mohegan Fund, with additional funds directed to communities near gaming centers. The amounts are based on a formula that involves a number of factors, including the value of non-taxable property within the community. Payments are made three times a year and can total up to $5 million or more for major cities.
West Hartford is expected to receive $27,820 in fiscal 2023 from the fund.
Zweig notes in the lawsuit that the state-recognized Schaghticoke Tribal Nation agreed to support the city’s respectful use of Native American nicknames as a way to help teach the history and culture of Connecticut’s tribes. .
Dallas Dodge, the West Hartford company attorney, said in a statement that the decision to change the nicknames was properly passed by the board of directors and was “consistent with local, state and federal policies regarding fairness and the diversity”.
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