The West Hartford School Board will invite members of local Tribal Nations to meet as a debate continues over whether to change the nicknames of two high schools.

In 2015, city officials voted to keep the names of the city’s two high school mascots — the Chieftan and the Warrior — but changed their logos amid debate over their use of Native American imagery.

Then, in February 2022, the school board votes in favor of changing the nicknames and sets itself the goal of finding new ones.

At a meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday evening, several parents and alumni spoke on both sides of the debate and the board voted to invite local tribal nations to attend their next meeting on Tuesday May 3 and to share their thoughts on the debate.

The state passed a law last summer that requires municipalities with sports teams that use Native American names or mascots to receive written endorsement from a state or federally recognized tribe in Connecticut or risk to lose state grants from revenue from the state’s two tribal casinos, 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.

The West Hartford School Board hopes to make a decision by June.


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