LETTER: Hail To The Redmen!
Jan 12, 2016 09:41AM
By Bill Gilman
To the Editor:
As a resident of Tewksbury for nearly 20 years, I have always appreciated the sentiments behind our beloved mascot. The mascot, the “Redmen,” has served as a symbol of pride and a rallying cry for the people of this town to show their love and appreciation for Tewksbury. Now, 80 years after the mascot was named, some people in town have deemed the nickname offensive. These people hope to correct historical transgressions by changing a tradition that has united Tewksburites for decades. Presumably, this aggrieved group is made up of guilty, white, liberals.
Those who seek to alter our storied mascot claim that the name comes at the expense of Native Americans. When teams choose their respective mascots, they are not selected to be disparaging. The Lowell Spinners were not named to display the brutal working conditions of the mills in 19th century, and the Boston Celtics did not come about as a means to mock the large numbers of Irish people who settled here during the potato famine. In a society as diverse as ours, no matter how much we try to sanitize our mascots, I’m sure someone, somewhere will find it offensive.
Another common argument used to change our mascot is the term “Redmen” is equivalent to the term “Redskin,” which therefore makes it derogatory towards those of American Indian descent. The Washington Post noted in 2005 the seemingly harmless origin of the term “Redskin”:
Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard spent seven months researching
its history and concluded that "redskin" was first used by Native Americans in the 18th century to distinguish themselves from the white "other" encroaching on their lands and culture.
Given the lack of an offensive origin, making the term “Redmen” equivalent to the term “Redskin” goes to show that the crusade to change our mascot is but a pointless endeavor.
Not only is the term “Redmen” not offensive, it is a term that traces its origins back to the Sons of Liberty. The Improved Order of Red Men is the oldest fraternal organization in the United States that has preserved the customs of Native Americans while promoting patriotism and love of country. During the Revolutionary War, the organization worked underground to undermine British rule and bring freedom to the early Colonies. On their website, The Improved Order of Red Men state that the organization is “devoted to inspiring a greater love for the United States of America and the principles of American Liberty.” How can naming our team after a group that fought for American Independence be offensive? Should we also change the name of the New England Patriots? I would implore those who have jumped so steadfastly on the “change the name” bandwagon to first learn their history before destroying a tradition so many here in town love.
The Redmen mascot has given our sports teams and our town an identity for nearly a century. It shows our appreciation for the integral role the Redmen played in our Founding, and just as the Redmen fought hard to establish a new nation, the people of hard working people of Tewksbury make our town great each and every day. As we continue down our warpath against those who seek to change our long-standing traditions, I urge you to join me in saying, “Hail to the Redmen!”