Dear Board Members and voting members,
Having recently read the letter that suggests a Club logo change; I have spoken to many members of the community who feel quite differently about maintaining our long standing identity. While the letter and author no doubt have a noble intent, it surely misses the little picture of our community. The comparison of the Abenakee Club to billion dollar sports empires that use what has become derogatory slang to refer to their mascots seems misplaced.
Defaulting to a worst case scenario doesn't seem constructive. Let us consider a more positive perspective that celebrates the history and heritage of the Abenakee. My research indicates the Abenakee need the recognition to keep the memory of their culture alive. While historically, settlers may have treated natives badly, this doesn't and should not apply to a group that respects their history. We should seize this opportunity to enhance our understanding and appreciation of the Abenakee.
There is much context for the membership to take into account that supports maintaining our name and logo.
First, our use of the name and logo are respectful in name and representation. We do not stoop to slang or demeaning pictures. We love our community, our club and our friends and this honors the native name chosen over 100 years ago.
There are similarities between the Abenakee culture and our community that make the name appropriate. The Abenakee were independent minded, respectful of the individual and even though they had a leader/ civil chief, called a Sagama, they arrived at important decisions by consensus. They lived in smaller clan based groups, much like our dear small Biddeford Pool family. They also valued dogs as members of the family and that may also be a familiar refrain around here. The Abenakee were a peace loving people, with many cooperative independent tribes with varying names. However, they would band together and fight outsiders such as the Iroquois when attempts were made to conquer them. We Biddeford Poolers with varying likes and interests tend to pursue our own happiness undisturbed by our neighbors until threatened by outsiders. With our hackles up, we band together with one voice.
Sadly, the Abenakee were decimated by European diseases and the number of descendants are few today. There are approximately 2,000 Abenakee living on a recognized reservation in Canada and perhaps 10,000 descendants scattered throughout New England. They are not federally recognized in the United States and subsequently do not have an independent home or federal protection. In short, Abenakee are threatened to extinction and need all the recognition they can get.
Attempts to remove their name seems counter productive to what remains of their culture. If anything we should expand the scope of our knowledge of their culture and history and add it to our club literature. They are an important part of our local history and it seems a shame to scrub them from our collective memories.
Any contemplated changes should only be for historical accuracy.
In summary, the Abenakee need us to continue the memory of their heritage. Our community mimics theirs in many ways that makes the name appropriate. We honor their memory with love of our community and respectful depictions of them.
Let us not toss their memory aside because that is the whim of a turbulent time. Let's embrace the Abenakee heritage and offer more education and show the parallels that make the name appropriate. Proudly display the name and logo and let people know what a great culture we have honored through naming our club. Please don't let the Abenakee be erased from memory when they richly deserve to be honored everyday.
The Abenakee deserve whatever our membership can do to be emissaries of their history.
Members in support of the Abenakee: