Indigenous leaders Wednesday night urged the Wells-Ogunquit Community District to stop using Native American imagery, including its Warriors football mascot.
Their remarks came at a meeting of a 25-person advisory committee formed in December to study the issue after the school's mascot came under public scrutiny in the fall.
Amelia Tuplin, a Micmac Indian from Lisbon, first raised the issue of the Native American mascot, after accusing Wells-Ogunquit fans of racist behavior at a football game in October.
Tuplin said she's disappointed by how quickly her concerns were dismissed by the school but wants to move forward.
"I've come to the conclusion that I must accept an apology I will never receive and move forward by educating people, in order to preserve our culture," Tuplin said. "With that being said tonight, my hope is that you can open your hearts tonight and take this opportunity to listen and learn."
Tuplin was invited to address the panel, along with eight other indigenous people, including Barry Dana, a former Penobscot chief. He said the school simply needs to get rid of the Native American caricature.
"Without the native imagery, warriors could be seen as any group across the globe - not necessarily Native American," Dana said. "However, their imagery is native to this country. So, that affects us."
Jim Daly, superintendent of the Wells-Ogunquit Community District, said he understands why people want the issue quickly resolved. But he said it's more important to have an open mind and consider both sides.
"For the community to move in any direction that we're going to go, I think it's important to talk from different sides. We want to make sure we are taking our time, we're being thoughtful and we do the right thing."
The entire review process, which began with a public discussion in November, is expected to take about six months. Wednesday night's event was an opportunity for the advisory committee to hear from indigenous people.
The committee is made up of community members, administrators, student athletes and coaches. It is expected to issue a recommendation around April.