09/27/13 10:00am

REPORTER FILE PHOTO

To the Editor:
I agree with Dr. Zitek (Prose & Comments, September 12) re: reducing tick numbers and thereby reducing tick-borne diseases. The facts he presents should be a call to action by all of us here on Shelter Island. Indeed, the time is now to deal with this public health crisis.

Have you or someone you know been affected by a tick-borne disease? If so, you know how debilitating the effects can be. Antibiotics are not a magic bullet.

The town needs to fund all 60 4-poster units and increase the number of deer culled during the hunting season. The budget season is upon us. Tell your elected officials how you would like your tax dollars to be spent.

Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty:

jdougherty@shelterislandtown.us

Council members:

Ed Brown: broedwa8@aol.com

Christine Lewis: kclewis@optonline.net

Paul Shepherd: pshepherd@shelterislandtown.us

Peter Reich:  peter@reichboat.com

Speaking of the budget season, what’s on the chopping block? The 2014 “working on” budget will be available beginning October 1 from the Town Clerk.  The proceedings will be recorded and available for viewing on Cablevision Channel 22.

Sometimes taxation is warranted. Be sure you are represented.
JACKIE BLACK
Member, Shelter Island
Deer & Tick Committee

An Indian statue
To the Editor:
Thank you Lisa Kaasik for bringing Islanders an awareness again of the Shelter Island Indian heritage.

The thought of Indians enjoying this Island’s seclusion and spring, summer, fall and winter weather is heartwarming. Their lifestyle was an art form. Shelter Island athletes emulate and honor the Indians.

The players duplicate the rough physical Indian competitions. Young people strive like Indians in competitive sports. They are a pleasure to watch, especially when they excel and win. Their athleticism is a tribute to our Indian ancestors. I am glad we keep the name “Indians” for our great volleyball team.

We should have an impressive, noble, larger-than-life statue of an Indian to represent our unique Island, its school and sports. The statue should be big, big enough to compete with our Memorial Day red fire truck parade.
ROD GRIFFIS
Shelter Island

09/19/13 2:09pm

REPORTER ARCHIVE PHOTO

Political correctness has its place as a warning alarm that individuals or groups have taken themselves too seriously.

Referring to teenage girls as “teen women” might be a clue that someone has gone too far to handcuff the language.

But too often those castigating someone for being carried away by political correctness are just giving cover to bigots. To say it’s being politically correct to want to change Washington’s National Football League franchise’s name from “Redskins” to something else is missing the point by a wide margin. “Redskins” is unequivocally racist, as racist as the founder of the team, George Preston Marshall.

The Board of Education’s decision Monday night to give a pass to a change of the name “Indians” for its sports teams seems to be a good one . It’s not clearly offensive as is Redskins.

But other schools changed their nicknames from Indians to something else, including Dartmouth, St. Bonaventure University and the College of William & Mary, out of respect for people who were offended.

What should be taken into account and not blithely dismissed is that some people were and are offended by Shelter Island School’s nickname. But there are obviously many more who are not, and their presence at the Board of Ed meeting was impressive against one lone dissenter.

One area of disagreement we have with those who want to keep the name Indians is using the power of “tradition” as an argument, as if every institution or symbol that has achieved some miles on its odometer is worth keeping. Think of the Washington Redskins’ tradition. (The former St. John’s University venerable and traditional “Redmen” was changed with little fuss to the Red Storm.)

Some of those in favor of changing the Indians name deserve hearing, one of whom you can read in our Prose & Comments feature in our print edtion. Pearl Williams, writer of the column, gives a sober and well-researched account of the issue.

America is always a work in progress and much has been done to root out bigotry from the violent expression of it (lynching, assassination, beatings, laws restricting ethnic and racial groups) to the casual corner-of-the mouth stereotyping of people.

And there’s always more work to do. Think of the Twitter half- wits and other social media trolls who thought it was funny and/or weird that an Indian- American woman, born in Syracuse, was named Miss America last weekend. What passed for humor was vile.

Those who would keep the Shelter Island Indian name and those who would opt for another have both made solid arguments, notably in the letter pages of the Reporter and at the School Board meeting.

All should be respected, and listened to carefully.

09/19/13 2:09pm

REPORTER ARCHIVE PHOTO

Political correctness has its place as a warning alarm that individuals or groups have taken themselves too seriously.

Referring to teenage girls as “teen women” might be a clue that someone has gone too far to handcuff the language.

But too often those castigating someone for being carried away by political correctness are just giving cover to bigots. To say it’s being politically correct to want to change Washington’s National Football League franchise’s name from “Redskins” to something else is missing the point by a wide margin. “Redskins” is unequivocally racist, as racist as the founder of the team, George Preston Marshall.

The Board of Education’s decision Monday night to give a pass to a change of the name “Indians” for its sports teams seems to be a good one . It’s not clearly offensive as is Redskins.

But other schools changed their nicknames from Indians to something else, including Dartmouth, St. Bonaventure University and the College of William & Mary, out of respect for people who were offended.

What should be taken into account and not blithely dismissed is that some people were and are offended by Shelter Island School’s nickname. But there are obviously many more who are not, and their presence at the Board of Ed meeting was impressive against one lone dissenter.

One area of disagreement we have with those who want to keep the name Indians is using the power of “tradition” as an argument, as if every institution or symbol that has achieved some miles on its odometer is worth keeping. Think of the Washington Redskins’ tradition. (The former St. John’s University venerable and traditional “Redmen” was changed with little fuss to the Red Storm.)

Some of those in favor of changing the Indians name deserve hearing, one of whom you can read in our Prose & Comments feature in our print edtion. Pearl Williams, writer of the column, gives a sober and well-researched account of the issue.

America is always a work in progress and much has been done to root out bigotry from the violent expression of it (lynching, assassination, beatings, laws restricting ethnic and racial groups) to the casual corner-of-the mouth stereotyping of people.

And there’s always more work to do. Think of the Twitter half- wits and other social media trolls who thought it was funny and/or weird that an Indian- American woman, born in Syracuse, was named Miss America last weekend. What passed for humor was vile.

Those who would keep the Shelter Island Indian name and those who would opt for another have both made solid arguments, notably in the letter pages of the Reporter and at the School Board meeting.

All should be respected, and listened to carefully.

09/17/13 2:00pm

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | The image at center court of the Shelter Island School gymnasium. It’s future seemed threatened in August but tradition appears to have carried the day in September for keeping the Indian.

The Indians live to fight another day.

The Board of Education, after hearing last month from a student who asked for consideration of a new school mascot and name for its sports teams, heard from community members Monday night. Result: no action to replace the Indian name or symbol that dominates center court of the school gym and is seen on T-shirts and hoodies around town.

Twenty five residents Monday night asked the BOE not to abandon tradition, but consider referring to its Indian as an “idol” or “symbol,” not “mascot.” What’s more, they were pleased to hear board members ensuring the Indian heritage of Shelter Island is incorporated into history classes so students understand and respect the image.

The suggestion that the school adopt a new “mascot” started with graduate Lisa Kaasik, a member of the class of 2013, who argued in both an editorial in the Inlet, the school newspaper, and at an August BOE meeting that the Indian mascot lent itself to stereotypes. It was “highly insensitive,” Ms. Kaasik said, to native Americans who occupied the area before settlers arrived.

What’s more, she noted the full-headdress of the Indian on the gymnasium floor was not true to the image of the Manhanset tribe since they didn’t wear headdresses.

Some teachers and board members seemed to embrace her thinking at the August meeting, but with a single exception — volleyball Coach Cindy Belt — other speakers Monday night implored the board to hold on to tradition and retain the Indian.

Later in the evening when Ms. Belt arrived, having missed the earlier discussion, she reiterated her opinion. Her sister-in-law, Nancy Redeye, a Seneca, had shared with her that the Indian mascot is offensive.

Ms. Belt was encouraged by the board to watch the tape of the meeting and hear the views of others.

“I’m saving my tribe from annihilation,” Billy Hallman told the board. “What we’ve done is kind of cherish our history of people who were here before,” he said. “I just don’t want to be some bird — an osprey or a seagull.”

“We aren’t trying to denigrate the Indians here,” said John Hallman.

Jay Card, who came up with the image that Superintendent Michael Hynes approved for the gymnasium floor, called it “very prideful.” And his wife, Judy Goodleaf Card, who is of Indian descent, said she didn’t believe the mascot was embarrassing or racist and it had real meaning for her husband and children, all of whom have attended Shelter Island School.

But the word “mascot” conjures up an image of someone jumping around in costume, said former School Board President Rebecca Mundy, who agreed with Ms. Card that the Shelter Island Indian should be an “icon.”

When the community heard about Ms. Kaasik’s campaign to change the Indian mascot, it “sent a tremor through this Island,” Ms. Mundy said.

The subject had appeared on the Monday’s meeting agenda for “discussion” not action, Board President Stephen Gessner said.

“It doesn’t mean we act because someone speaks,” he said.

Board member Linda Eklund said for Islanders, Indian represented a tribute, not a racist slur. But she said she, too, preferred the word “icon” to “mascot.” At the same time, she said it was wonderful to hear Ms. Kaasik speak so beautifully. Her colleague, Elizabeth Melichar agreed, saying Ms. Kaasik had expressed her views for the board’s consideration and the way in which she presented her argument was a tribute to her teachers.

“She gave an eloquent rendition of points for consideration,” Ms. Melichar said.

What does have to go is whooping sounds some students made at a recent game, she said, calling that disrespectful of the Indian image.

“I really believe that everybody deserves a voice,” Board member Marilynn Pysher said about why she encouraged Ms. Kaasik to speak out. Her presentation was “non-inflammatory,” Ms. Pysher said.

“If we get rid of the word ‘mascot,’ we’ll be fine,” Board member Alfred Brigham Sr. said.

09/17/13 2:00pm

ELEANOR P. LABROZZI PHOTO | The image at center court of the Shelter Island School gymnasium. It’s future seemed threatened in August but tradition appears to have carried the day in September for keeping the Indian.

The Indians live to fight another day.

The Board of Education, after hearing last month from a student who asked for consideration of a new school mascot and name for its sports teams, heard from community members Monday night. Result: no action to replace the Indian name or symbol that dominates center court of the school gym and is seen on T-shirts and hoodies around town.

Twenty five residents Monday night asked the BOE not to abandon tradition, but consider referring to its Indian as an “idol” or “symbol,” not “mascot.” What’s more, they were pleased to hear board members ensuring the Indian heritage of Shelter Island is incorporated into history classes so students understand and respect the image.

The suggestion that the school adopt a new “mascot” started with graduate Lisa Kaasik, a member of the class of 2013, who argued in both an editorial in the Inlet, the school newspaper, and at an August BOE meeting that the Indian mascot lent itself to stereotypes. It was “highly insensitive,” Ms. Kaasik said, to native Americans who occupied the area before settlers arrived.

What’s more, she noted the full-headdress of the Indian on the gymnasium floor was not true to the image of the Manhanset tribe since they didn’t wear headdresses.

Some teachers and board members seemed to embrace her thinking at the August meeting, but with a single exception — volleyball Coach Cindy Belt — other speakers Monday night implored the board to hold on to tradition and retain the Indian.

Later in the evening when Ms. Belt arrived, having missed the earlier discussion, she reiterated her opinion. Her sister-in-law, Nancy Redeye, a Seneca, had shared with her that the Indian mascot is offensive.

Ms. Belt was encouraged by the board to watch the tape of the meeting and hear the views of others.

“I’m saving my tribe from annihilation,” Billy Hallman told the board. “What we’ve done is kind of cherish our history of people who were here before,” he said. “I just don’t want to be some bird — an osprey or a seagull.”

“We aren’t trying to denigrate the Indians here,” said John Hallman.

Jay Card, who came up with the image that Superintendent Michael Hynes approved for the gymnasium floor, called it “very prideful.” And his wife, Judy Goodleaf Card, who is of Indian descent, said she didn’t believe the mascot was embarrassing or racist and it had real meaning for her husband and children, all of whom have attended Shelter Island School.

But the word “mascot” conjures up an image of someone jumping around in costume, said former School Board President Rebecca Mundy, who agreed with Ms. Card that the Shelter Island Indian should be an “icon.”

When the community heard about Ms. Kaasik’s campaign to change the Indian mascot, it “sent a tremor through this Island,” Ms. Mundy said.

The subject had appeared on the Monday’s meeting agenda for “discussion” not action, Board President Stephen Gessner said.

“It doesn’t mean we act because someone speaks,” he said.

Board member Linda Eklund said for Islanders, Indian represented a tribute, not a racist slur. But she said she, too, preferred the word “icon” to “mascot.” At the same time, she said it was wonderful to hear Ms. Kaasik speak so beautifully. Her colleague, Elizabeth Melichar agreed, saying Ms. Kaasik had expressed her views for the board’s consideration and the way in which she presented her argument was a tribute to her teachers.

“She gave an eloquent rendition of points for consideration,” Ms. Melichar said.

What does have to go is whooping sounds some students made at a recent game, she said, calling that disrespectful of the Indian image.

“I really believe that everybody deserves a voice,” Board member Marilynn Pysher said about why she encouraged Ms. Kaasik to speak out. Her presentation was “non-inflammatory,” Ms. Pysher said.

“If we get rid of the word ‘mascot,’ we’ll be fine,” Board member Alfred Brigham Sr. said.