The Natick school committee voted to change the name to Hawks, The Boston Globe reported. But the town selectmen, after two hours of debate, voted Monday to hold a non-binding referendum on March 25.
Natick began its history in the 17th century as a community of Praying Indians who had been converted to Christianity by Puritan settlers. Descendants of those Indians say that the name Redmen is insulting and many townspeople agree with them.
But the town has not rallied around the name of Hawks and a substantial group of citizens do not want a new name. They include Doug Flutie, a former Redman who went on to become a football star at Boston College and a starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.
"This is about the spirit of the town and its history, not just sports teams," said Sue Lamont, who has collected 1,800 signatures from Redmen supporters.