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MURSD slowly changing mascot imagery to reflect inclusivity

By Linda Chuss

The Mendon-Upton Regional School District works to unify two towns into one cohesive school system that reflects its mission and values, including belonging and inclusivity, according to Superintendent Maureen Cohen. Among the forms that takes is how the schools are represented in their names and images.

“Over the past few years, the district has been modernizingour logos with a thoughtful approach, based on input from students, alumni, and staff,” Cohen explained. This includes the intertwined MU logo for Mendon-Upton, the MH logo for the Miscoe Hill school, and the N logo for Nipmuc Regional High School, all with a similar look. 

“It’s reflected in signs, uniforms, media, and merchandise, as the need for replacements arises,” she added. 

Part of that process has been a move away from Native American imagery which, while nostalgic for some, can be considered insensitive and denigrating by others. A proposed law, H.477 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and S.245 in the Senate, calls for public schools to remove all names and imagery using any racial, ethnic, gender, or religious groups, including Native Americans.

If enacted, the law would apply to the district’s Warriors and Braves mascots. While the names are used infrequently in district materials, there has been no official move to new mascots or nicknames. Outside of the schools, some programs in Upton and Mendon use Warriors and Braves imagery and branding, though the legislation would not apply to them.

Cohen said the district is aware of the proposed law and prior legislative efforts, and is poised to adhere to it and honor the wishes of the Nipmuc nation.

On Nov. 13, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Education held a hearing on the topic. As reported by WBZ-4 (CBS News) and the State House News Service, Rhonda Anderson, a representative on the state Commission on Indian Affairs, stated, “Those mascots are not of our choosing. They’re not who we are. We are over 576 … vastly different communities and cultures, and what’s being used is a stereotype.” 

At that same hearing, Faries Gray, a Massachusetts Native American said, “We’re not somebody of the past. We’re living people … Most of the indigenous mascots classify us as warriors and things of that nature. Classifying us as a warrior class society -- which we were not. My tribe, we were primarily fisherman and farmers.”

The Grafton-based Hassanamisco Nipmuc Band, a state-acknowledged tribe of Indigenous People, supports such legislation, per a general letter they issued on the topic in 2020 “to all interested parties” at A similar resolution was approved by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees in 2021.

According to, even without state legislation, 67 districts in Massachusetts have replaced their indigenous imagery and names over the past 25 years.  Now, only 23 districts retain them in some form. Other states that have adopted similar legislation include Maine and New York.