A banner from Wells High School, where the team name is the Warriors. Credit: Courtesy of York County Coast Star

A Lisbon woman has asked for a public apology from the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District for what she said was racist behavior at a recent Wells High School football game.

“They just made a mockery of my culture and my heritage,” said Amelia Tuplin, a member of the Micmac Tribe.

WOCSD Superintendent James Daly said the district has investigated the complaint, which was communicated in a letter from Tuplin last week. He said the accusations are unfounded, based on the investigation’s findings.

“To say we did this intentionally and were harmful in our measures is wrong,” Daly said.

The controversy took place when the Wells High School Warriors football team hosted the Lisbon High School Greyhounds on Friday, Oct. 14 at Memorial Field. Tuplin, whose son is a member of the Lisbon football team, said as she and her son walked from the football field to the high school gymnasium, adult members of the crowd made hand gestures and “whooping” sounds she felt were aimed her way.

She said fans in the stands had their faces painted and were banging on drums and five-gallon buckets, chanting. The Wells football players were also performing a “mock war dance” on the field after the game, Tuplin recalled.

No one at the game made an effort to stop the behavior that Tuplin believes is a “racial mockery of Native people.”

Several schools in the state have changed their mascot or logo in recent years, eliminating Native American nicknames.

Cinndi Davidson of Wells said she doesn’t have any issue with the school’s mascot or the crowd’s behavior at the football game.

“My idea of a warrior is someone who fights for truth and dignity,” she said. “I don’t see any disgrace being called a ‘warrior’ if you’re fighting for right.”

As for the chanting, dancing and banging on buckets and drums, Davidson saw no problem.

“Every home game I have gone to, there have been students who are hitting buckets; I expect that,” Davidson said. “I don’t see anything wrong with students who are proud of their school and proud of their team.”

A person who identified themselves as a WHS student, who wrote to the York County Coast Star anonymously, called the accusations “untruthful.” “Wells High School is a school known for it’s good morals and ethic, and to accuse a school that prides themselves on being accepting of all nationalities of being racist is a huge allegation to make,” they said.

Daly said the district investigated Tuplin’s complaint by reviewing videotapes recorded that night and interviewing people at the game. He said the district will also open a discussion in the community about the Warrior mascot.

The superintendent said he is open to talking with Tuplin about the entire incident and her complaint but she had not responded to his emails or invitation as of Wednesday evening.

Daly said while the district’s investigation didn’t provide any evidence of racist behavior at the football game, he’s appreciative of the dialogue that has taken place around the issue.

“I’m extremely proud of my community,” he said.

Wells is the No. 1 ranked team and Lisbon is ranked third for the upcoming Class D South playoffs. If both teams win in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, they could meet for the D South championship, which would be played at Wells.