I couldn’t help notice the resemblance between the Wells High School logo and the Indian chief on the buffalo nickel. Usually, the image on a nation’s coinage represents the highest esteem possible. Evidently, that form of acknowledgment is no longer in vogue.

The United States has depicted Native Americans on several of its coins. Along with the nickel (1913-1938) is the $5 incuse gold piece (1908) – “incuse” referring to the recessed lettering on the coin, a feature, at the time, that was both praised and condemned.

Controversy also centered on the Indian head penny (1859-1909). Rumors persist today that James B. Longacre put a headdress on his daughter Sarah and used her as the coin’s model. The controversy was still evident in 1997 when artists for the Sacagawea design were instructed to “be sensitive to cultural authenticity and try to avoid creating a representation of a classical European face.”

We assume that when Wells High adopted a portrayal of an Indian warrior as its mascot, the idea was to acknowledge certain characteristics connected to warriors throughout history: namely, courage, bravery and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for the common good.

Sensitivities are evident, but to spend tens of thousands of dollars to eliminate all signs of the Wells High School mascot is a little emotionally overdone.

Robert Denbow