Northwest Catholic High School will end a 50-year association with the mascot and team name “Indians” immediately and become the “Lions” for all sports teams and events. A student and grassroots led movement to change the name was accepted by school’s leadership on October 28, and the name and new mascot was officially unveiled at a school-wide assembly the next morning. The new logo will be designed through a student-led design competition set in motion immediately after the formal announcement.
Northwest Catholic will become only one of a very small number of high schools in Connecticut that uses the “Lions” name.
Northwest Catholic began using “Indians” in 1964 but began exploring an identity change during the last 2-3 years as momentum has grown among groups of students, school leaders and alumni who believe that the continued use of a Native American name was both insensitive and not representative of Northwest Catholic’s core values. For 5 decades, Northwest Catholic has embraced diversity and acceptance in the pursuit of academic, artistic, athletic and spiritual excellence.
“It’s exciting to be part of this historic change,” said Northwest Catholic Student Council President Matthew Sottile ’16 of East Granby. “I think this new sense of identity is going to bring about an even greater sense of school pride.”
Once the group agreed on the name change, a process began to select a new one. Interestingly, Northwest Catholic had already been using the phrase “NWC Pride” in various ways for many years, including as the current name of a digital platform that connects all student activities. A brand study was recently conducted by Vie, a Simsbury-based consulting firm, to help students, school leaders and alumni narrow down name choices.
Through the study, “Pride” was determined to be a word closely tied to the mission and the school’s winning tradition of excellence in academics, the arts, athletics and commitment to spirituality. A powerful and logical choice to represent the embodiment of Northwest Catholic Pride was “Lions.”
“The National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media congratulates Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, Connecticut for their decision to retire their Indigenous mascot,” said Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder and current board member of the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media. “We express our admiration and appreciation to their administrators, school leaders, students and other advocates for helping retire this mascot. We are sure that the actions of Northwest Catholic High School will be emulated by other schools in the Connecticut area and that Northwest Catholic High School will be seen as leaders for mutual respect and equality of all peoples."
Native American names and mascots have been the subject of much public debate since the 1960s. The National Congress of American Indians, the nation’s oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization, has long said such names are derogatory and harmful stereotypes of native people.
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