Not “Indian Enough”
Biloxi High School Alumni Perpetuate Ignorance, Cyberbully Natives, and Dictate Who is “Indian Enough” to Have an Opinion in Cultural Appropriation Debate.
By Kayla Faith
Deloria Lane Many Grey Horses-Violich is one of these people. Peacefully, she generated a Change.org petition calling for Biloxi Superintendent Arthur McMillan to emancipate indigenous peoples from the cultural appropriation of our Tunica-Biloxi cousins. She eloquently defends the teenagers being subjected to the perpetuation of cultural appropriation, stating, “If you want to play the trumpet and represent your school, you have to wear an item that is sacred to many Native cultures.”
But next the alumni begin arguing that the Biloxi people themselves are not “Indian enough.” “Their ancestry cannot be 100% confirmed,” McWilliams states, claiming that many think “the tribe, and factual descendants are extinct.” Ignoring the tribe’s status of federal recognition, the group focuses instead on how “watered down” the tribe members are, and question if they’re even Biloxi at all. Lateacha states, “The Biloxi blood line is dead and only traces reside in those at Tunica-Biloxi. In fact you can find old Biloxi French families with as much Biloxi in them. I’d still love to hear from Tunica-Biloxi, but let’s be honest there is no real ‘Voice of the Tribe’ left.”
You want “purebloods”? What are we, dogs?
It is absolutely imperative for the citizens of this country to wake up and realize the unnecessary harm being done by the continued use of racist mascots. The documented psychological damage on both Native and non-Native children should be proof enough of the necessity to change. Humans are not predisposed to prejudice; instead, we are teaching our non-indigenous children cultural insensitivity and our indigenous children low self-worth. We are perpetuating the lies of what constitutes being “Indian enough” and what doesn’t. Stop this injustice, Biloxi, like you finally stopped racially segregating your students in 1970. It’s time we moved beyond delusions of racial inequality.
Kayla Faith also took on a Biloxi High supporter who offered the usual tired arguments for Indian mascots. A sample:
A response to a Biloxi resident
Right, they do. Because there is symbolism behind what they choose. However, when a human being is chosen as a mascot–specifically an entire race of people who identify instead by their own nations–is used by non-Natives to sell their product or promote their image, this is not out of honor. Do you really think these mascots, chosen in times when Natives weren’t even allowed to be American citizens, were really honoring anything? No, they were chosen because Natives were considered non-human. Boarding schools, some of which closed within my lifetime, were set in place by the government to “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”–stripping them of all their clothes, language, religion, anything that made them “Indian”. Children taken from home and assimilated. The government did this. In its very motto, the program clearly parallels a dead Indian to a saved man. Just in case you still didn’t get it, Indian =/= Man. Indian=Animal. Indian=Savage. Indian=Your Mascot, based on these beliefs. These mascots were chosen because they were savage, uncontrollable animals, noted for their resilience to assimilation. WE are proud of our resilience to assimilation, but THEY were not. THEY tried to beat it out of our ancestors. To THEM, we were worthless farm animals to be tamed and broken. No different than the way they treated our black cousins. THAT is why this HAS TO STOP.
4. Biloxi High School chose the Biloxi Indian based on the history of the Biloxi Indian Tribe who resided here but also because it represents strength, honor, spirit, bravery and character.
There is no evidence of why they chose this. If you think that name represents those things, then you believe in the Indian stereotype. The Tanêks simply left. They wanted nothing to do with the British. I am not speaking ill of them when I say their leaving in no way earns them the right to be stereotyped as the resilient “savage.” They were resilient, absolutely, but not in a way you comprehend. You don’t recognize their struggle for federal recognition because, as you demonstrated in your dialogue with us, you know nothing about Indian Affairs, Tribal Law, or our histories. You just pretend like you do, but you’re reiterating the same stereotyping lies that we have had to shoot down time and time again. When will it end??
Someone listens to an Indian
One person did listen to the Indians who protested the Biloxi "Indians," including one from the Tunica-Biloxi tribe. His name is Jean-Luc Pierite and she began her response to him:
Just a Biloxi girl….Who has opened her eyes
Some also felt that his article was an attack directed towards Deloria Many Grey Horses, who originated the petition to change the uniform of the marching band. By the end of his article, he suggest that people educate themselves on his tribe. Many people thought he was directing that to the opposition. Wrong. So. Very. Wrong. His target was none other than those in favor of supporting the headdress and mascot. Those who claimed it to be “heritage,” “tradition” and “in honor of.” Those who claimed “honor” then in the next sentence said something disparaging towards a Native American culture. Oh, okay. So it’s okay to make a “joke” about something, but it’s not okay when those you are joking about take offense? Right….
Deloria Many Grey Horses has a picture on several of these articles. It is of her, holding a sign that says “#notyourmascotbiloxi.” Many of the alumni, sadly including myself, took a stab at this. Many negative remarks were made. Things like “Of course she’s not. She’s not even American.” or “She is psycho. Of COURSE she’s not our mascot. Who is stupid enough to want her as one?”
Many people felt that Deloria has an agenda. A personal vendetta, for no good reason. I, too, felt that she was just attacking the school because she could. I did extensive research on Deloria prior to Jean-Luc’s article. I did even more after. What did I find? I found that Deloria, in fact, DOES have an agenda. GASP! Of course she does. Her agenda is this: to bring an end to the racism and discrimination towards Native People. Towards ALL people. She aims to educate the populace about the negative effects these types of incidents have on our youth. OUR YOUTH. Not just Native American youth.