Brookline High School newspaper to change name


Eleanor Bergstein

NESPA Winner: News story, 2023

The Cypress, Brookline High School, Brookline, MA

This article was reviewed by newspaper staff and represents a paper-wide point of view.

In 2013, the newspaper staff published a statement on the meaning of the word “Sagamore.” To the 2013-14 staff, “the story of how the first staff chose to name it ‘The Sagamore’ remain[ed] a mystery.” More recently, we uncovered clues as to how the name was selected. This sparked an investigation into the impact using the name has today.

We have decided to change the name of the newspaper out of respect for Indigenous peoples. Continuing to use the name actively disregards the meaning of the word and the history that surrounds it, thereby harming Indigenous communities.

The word “Sagamore” denotes an important leader of some New England Indigenous tribes. The current Sagamore of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, Faries Gray, said the traditional role of a Sagamore was to protect their people in conflict. Gray said the role of a Sagamore looks different in modern times.

“What that means for us today is protection of our territory from being developed. It’s like a protector. It’s a responsibility,” Gray said. “It’s my duty to protect our people, our territory and our culture. For me, that name means a tremendous amount of responsibility.”

This article is divided into three sections. In the first, we talk about the history of the Massachusett people. In the second, we discuss the newspaper’s use of the word “Sagamore” and its connection to a negative history. Finally, we reflect on recent conversations with Indigenous people that have helped us understand the current impact of using the name “The Sagamore.”

This marks the first time our newspaper has changed its name since its founding in 1893, 130 years ago.


Read the full story here.