March 05. 2018 10:59AM

Mascoma Savings Bank's new logo drops depiction of Squakheag Indian Chief Mascommah

Union Leader Correspondent

LEBANON — Mascoma Savings Bank’s new logo leaves out its namesake.

The pinwheel featuring the colors green, blue, orange and purple is replacing an image of Squakheag Indian Chief Mascommah spearfishing out of a canoe in the Mascoma River.

Bernard F. Chapman painted a historical mural depicting Mascommah for the bank in 1952 to commemorate the events of Lebanon’s development.

The 22-foot mural went on to be displayed at the Bank’s Operation Center in White River Junction, Vt., while a silhouette of Mascommah went on to become the bank’s logo.

Samantha Pause, senior vice president of marketing, sales and service at Mascoma Bank, said there are various reasons behind the logo change, but declined an interview Tuesday, saying she wasn’t comfortable with the media’s focus on the Native American aspect of the outgoing logo. 

There was no press release on the bank’s website about the new logo, but Thursday along with the new logo there was an announcement that Mascoma Bank is now a Benefit Corporation, saying that as a B-Corp, “We conduct business knowing that people and place matter, aspiring both to do no harm and to benefit all.”

Ed Ashey, curator of the Lebanon Historical Society, said Wednesday he was saddened the image of Chief Mascommah was being dropped by the bank, erasing the history of the region.

“It’s like they are trying to erase the identity of Native Americans that were here to start with,” Ashey said. “To me it was a symbol of strength.”

Ashey said he was always interested in history studying European and Greek history as a young boy, but at the age of 7 or 8 his uncle gave him a Dartmouth College notebook that had Dartmouth’s Native American mascot on it. 

The image immediately piqued his interest, and Ashey said he began studying local Native American history and American history. 

Ashey said he had been told the new logo was an abstract symbol.

“Probably so nobody will know what it is, and nobody will be offended,” Ashey said. “I think it’s sad that they are doing away with this because somebody thought it was derogatory or for whatever reason. People are so easily offended these days,” he said. “I just think it’s sad that they are wiping away every symbol of the Native Americans that were here before.”

Regionally dropping such symbols has been a trend. Dartmouth College dropped its Native American mascot in the 1970s, and Lebanon High School dropped “Agamek,” its fictional Native American mascot, in 2001.

More recently on the national level, the Cleveland Indians announced in January it was dropping the Chief Wahoo logo from uniforms starting in 2019.