The Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA) recently reached out to Skowhegan school-board member and supporter of keeping the “Indians” name, Jennifer Poirier, regarding coming to Maine and speaking in support of keeping the nickname for Skowhegan’s sports teams.

The event is scheduled for Sunday, February 24th at T&B’s Celebration Center in Skowhegan and is not open to the public. Regarding the event, Porier told the Morning Sentinel, “It’s not anything I solicited… I’m just kind of the instrument for getting them set up with a time and place…It’s not open to the public…This is not a debate going on. This is something where they’re coming to support the people who support the name. We’re not looking for any conflict with those who want to change the name.”

Maulian Dana, Penobscot Nation ambassador, criticized the visit stating, “This is a group full of pretendians, people accepting bribes to say they like mascots, and they are funded with deep pockets of those looking to keep the Washington football team racial slur.” Referencing the Washington Redskins. She goes on to call the event a “racist echo chamber.”

Another critic and Indigenous rights attorney and activist, Sherri Mitchell, stated in a Facebook post with well over 100 shares that, “Skowhegan is now bringing in fake Indians to plead their case to keep their racist mascot. This group is comprised of paid actors who were hired by the Washington Redskins to promote Native American mascots. They do not speak for Native people, but for profit. They were also hired by the Covington Catholic School to provide deceptive optics to their cause.”

According to NAGA’s website, their mission is, “to Preserve and Honor Native American Indian Pride and Dignity; to Give Voice to those Millions who Have been Censored. To Address the Many Real Problems and Issues on Reservations and Throughout America. To Aggressively Network with Native American and U.S. Historians to Educate, Enlighten, Support and Honor those With an Interest or Investment in Reviving the Declining Cultural Value of Native Americans and their Cherished National Contributions. We will Accomplish our Mission by Maintaining and Propagating High-Impact Names, Icons and Images in the Media as well as among Educational, Internet, Community and Sports Leaders. We Will Engage Those Who Would Actively Impugn, Degrade or Remove These Valuable American Keepsakes from the Public’s View.”

In an email to the Morning Sentinel, Andrew Billeaudeaux, a NAGA board member, stated that NAGA “is not funded by the NFL” but did not clarify if they were affiliated with Mark One Wolf Yancey, a controversial advocate for the Washington Redskins name.

Skowhegan Area High School is the only school left in the state with the “Indians” nickname. Sanford, Scarborough, and Wiscasset have all changed their names in recent years.