students on bleachers at Wahconah Regional High School (copy)

Students relax in the gym bleachers of the new Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton. The Wahconah Warriors’ head-dressed logo is nowhere in evidence in the shiny new high school, and it will be phased out on the athletic fields.

At this Thanksgiving season, when we gather to celebrate a heartwarming but largely fictional tale about Pilgrims dining with Native Americans in Plymouth in 1621, an opportunity is presented to consider an issue that resonates here in Berkshire County. That is the effort to end the attachment of names and images demeaning to Native Americans to athletic teams.

Berkshire County has a long, fascinating history of Native American tribes, primarily the Mohicans. This is the case all over the United States, as the people whom settlers encountered as they moved westward were indigenous to the land. It is believed that the Wampanoags were in Plymouth 10,000 years before the Pilgrims sailed in to ultimately transform the tribe forever — and not for the better, Thanksgiving aside.

Native American tribes have been largely eradicated from the United States, but their memory came to be “honored” by sports teams usurping them for nicknames and logos. The most infamous was the Washington Redskins, a racist nickname accompanied by shameful logos and mascots. That was all eliminated two years ago, decades too late. The Cleveland Indians phased out their insulting Chief Wahoo logo years ago and next season will become known as the Guardians.

All nicknames are not equally bad, however. Warriors and Braves are less offensive than Redskins, certainly, and we have Warriors and Braves in the Berkshires — at least for a little while longer.

The Pittsfield School Committee has voted unanimously to replace Braves as the nickname for Taconic in spite of entreaties by Braves supporters to wait until a bill eliminating all Native American nicknames, mascots and logos from Massachusetts public schools is voted upon on Beacon Hill. The bill emerged in the wake of protests against racial injustice this summer. The decision by the school board, which had previously voted to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, came as no surprise.

The relatively benign Braves nickname was sabotaged by fans of the Atlanta Braves, with their stereotyping “tomahawk chop” and accompanying war song. Fox Sports was pleased to show this degrading foolishness during the recent World Series and viewers got to see ex-president Donald Trump joining in. It was time for the nickname to go at Taconic.

In Dalton, the situation with the Wahconah Warriors is more complicated. Wahconah is an Indigenous name, one shared by Pittsfield’s Wahconah Park. According to the Our History section of the Wahconah Regional website, Wahconah was a Native American princess promised to one suitor by tribal elders but in love with another who had rescued her from a bear — a strong selling point then, as today the bear would simply have been treed and shot by the state.

A competition ensued and the favored suitor, Nessacus, won. The middle school in the Central Regional Berkshire School District is named after him. It has a better ring than Yonnangah, who was the failed suitor.

It’s a charming tale — perhaps no more truthful than the tale of the first Thanksgiving but without the heavy historical baggage.

The Wahconah Warriors’ head-dressed logo is nowhere in evidence in the shiny new high school, and it will be phased out on the athletic fields. That’s as it should be, but should the nickname go as well? Like Braves, Warriors is not a transparently insulting moniker. Unlike Braves, it has not been corrupted by thoughtless fans elsewhere. There appears to be no outcry in the liberal Bay Area area to change the nickname of the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.

Whether it is in legislative bodies or on campuses, well-meaning efforts to correct specific wrongs routinely expand to do generalized harm. The bill on Beacon Hill is a good example, as it lumps all mascots, logos and nicknames together without regard for legitimate distinctions. There is a difference between Redskins and Warriors.

The one-size-fits-all state bill should be voted down and school districts allowed to handle the issue of Native American logos, nicknames and mascots. The Warriors nickname deserves to remain, absent the logos that are already becoming history at Wahconah. If the Central Berkshire Regional School District school board feels otherwise, it is better that the decision be made locally than in Boston.

The Warriors nickname has earned its place in school district lore, just like the princess Wahconah and her triumphant suitor Nessacus.

Bill Everhart is an occasional Eagle contributor and a graduate of Wahconah Regional High School.