Linganore logo debate: Appropriate or appropriated?


Paul Madariaga

While it was banned by former Principal Nancy Doll, students in the “tribe” still brought and wore the headdress to the 2021 Maryland 3A State Football Championship.

The phrase “new year, new me” is a popular sentiment when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, but what about new school years? As part of the new school year at Linganore High School (LHS), a new school logo was launched. Traditionally, the mascot of the school is the Lancer– a Native American figure. So, in the past, the logo consisted of a feathered spear and a crest. This year, the logo has been quietly modified and re-released.

At Linganore, the school mascot has always been a controversial subject. Over the years, there have been multiple efforts to address this divisive issue. Some in the Linganore community say that the mascot respects Native traditions, while others say that it is offensive and should be removed altogether.

This on-going debate has been previously seen in one of the school’s other traditions. Historically, each year, one senior in the student section known as the ”tribe” was nominated as the “chief.” This individual used to wear an imitation Native American headdress to cheer on the team.

In 2017, former Principal Nancy Doll banned the use of the headdress. This caused a huge uproar in the Linganore community, and petitions popped up both supporting and denouncing the tradition. In an article published by the Frederick News-Post, Doll made an official statement regarding the headdress.

Linganore student section cheers at a football game with a flag and the spear. (Paul Madariaga)

“We want our school to be a welcoming environment to all students, and we felt this [eliminating use of the headdress] was the best way to make sure all students felt welcome at school,” Doll said. “After researching what [Native American] headdresses mean to this culture, we felt it was best to get rid of it.”

As a result of this decision, the lead member of the student section now brings a spear to the games in lieu of the headdress.

In the same article, a Native American man named Juan Boston spoke on the importance of feathers to his culture.

“’I’m 58, and in my life, I have received one eagle feather … When you see some people wearing one jumping around like a monkey yelling like an idiot, it is disrespectful to our culture,’” said Boston.

‘I’m 58, and in my life, I have received one eagle feather … When you see some people wearing one jumping around like a monkey yelling like an idiot, it is disrespectful to our culture,’

— Juan Boston

Despite banning the use of the headdress, up until the logo redesign, feathers were still featured in the school logo and other school-designed clothing and materials.

Former Linganore Athletic Director Sonny Joseph noted that while redesigning the school logo, he made the decision to move away from the full spear and focus on just the arrowhead portion of the logo. This was done in an effort to move the emblem in a more perceptive direction, further stripping it of the Native American associations.

“I did research from all over the country dealing with Lancers– seeing other logos [and] seeing other schools that had tribal insignia,” said Joseph. “I said, ‘Okay, we’re going to focus on the spear for the past, and we’re gonna move on to the arrowhead.’”

The original school seal was designed in 1962, after the first students attending the school voted to select a Native American warrior as the mascot. The creation of the new Linganore logos began right before the start of the pandemic, before they were put on hold as the community adjusted to virtual learning.

The transition between logos took place between two former principals, Doll and Cindy Hanlon, which extended the process of the rebranding over multiple years.

Joseph clarified that there had been previous discussion about rebranding the school after it moved physical building locations twice, and the athletic programs started to gain more attention from the public eye.

During the process of rebranding, the administrative team was consulted by Joseph to look over possible colors, fonts and designs for the logo. Ultimately, the final logo of the arrowhead was approved and finalized in January of 2021.

Joseph clarified that no formal procedure was used to poll community members about the logos, but he did casually speak with coaches, teachers and student athletes as the redesign process was in progress.

Junior Maddie Madariaga is on the Linganore varsity field hockey team and runs their social media page. She consistently makes graphics with the new logos. Madariaga expressed positive feelings about the new designs.

“I think it’s good that this is the first step to get away from negative connotations,” said Madariaga. “I think they’re easier to work with because they’re smaller and more simple.”

Current Athletics and Facilities Coordinator Howard Putterman noted that any new merchandise or products being sold through the school should utilize the new logos and not display any of the old symbols. He also stated that part of the purpose behind updating the logos was to create consistency across different sports and to construct a more cohesive and recognizable brand for the school.

“In the past here at Linganore, we’ve had one logo for LHS baseball and a different logo for football, a different logo for girls’ soccer and a different one for boys’ soccer,” said Putterman. “They do look different, and we want[ed] to have a symbol that is recognized across the state.”

Formulation of the new school emblems was completed by the company BSN Sports, and the condensed arrowhead logo was introduced to the LHS sports coaches after the redesign was completed. It will be used in the coming seasons for all sports merchandise sold.

A more athletic school crest was also created to highlight the athletic success of the school and to tie in with the approved logos.

The new logo was introduced to staff through an email sent at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, but Putterman specified that the redesign was unknown to many until he sent out the notice.

The decision to remove the feather and spear from the logo aligns with many states’ decisions to ban Native mascots and combat cultural appropriation. According to National Geographic, more than 1000 K-12 schools nationwide have a Native American-related mascot like Linganore.

The statue under the stairwell depicts a Native American warrior with a spear and shield. It weighs about 1,000 pounds and was a gift to the school from the class of 1963. (Beau Cameron)

Although Linganore administration has redesigned the school logo to eliminate some of these Native American associations, some remnants of the original mascot and logo remain. One of the most prominent of which is the Native American warrior statue on the main thoroughfare of the school building.

In 2017, there were intentions of creating a Native American heritage display or room at LHS to celebrate Native culture. As of now, there is not an informational display in the building.

Changing the logo out of respect and consistency is well-mannered, but it begs the question– is it enough?