May 19, 2015

Biloxi Indian: Problem is "headdress"

The Biloxi "Indians" controversy is still simmering.

Local Tribe Pulled into Mascot Controversy

Pierite says stereotyping--not name--is the problem

By Raymond L. Daye
As of last week, tribal officials had released no official comment on the matter, but were discussing a response to release to the public.

However, tribal member Michael Pierite--son of first tribal chairman Joseph Pierite Jr. and grandson of last traditional chief Joseph Pierite Sr.--did consent to share his personal opinion on the matter. He and his wife Donna stressed that they speak only for themselves and their family, and not in any official capacity for the tribe.

“I don’t mind that the Biloxi Tribe is used as the mascot for Biloxi High School,” Pierite said. “I just don’t like that they are inaccurately depicting our tribe.”

The problem, in one word, is “headdress.”
Pierite explains what he meant:“The problem is stereotypes,” Pierite continued. “In the movies of the 1940’s and ‘50’s, it didn’t matter what tribe was in the movie, they all had full headdresses. Hollywood didn’t worry about accuracy. Later, the movies started becoming more accurate in their depiction of the various tribes--like Last of the Mohicans.”

Pierite said the word “Indians” is “just a word. It’s the name of their team. That’s okay. It’s the stereotyping that is not okay.”

Pierite said he has not kept up with the controversy in Biloxi, but has heard that comments on both sides of the issue have boiled over somewhat.

“I guess what I would have to say is, I can’t force people to change their minds about a particular race of people, but at least I can try to get them to see what they are doing is not right," he said.

"You see, people may say that ‘words don’t hurt,’ but words do hurt. They can hurt a lot,” Pierite said. “If they stereotype my people, my tribe, then that hurts me, too. I don’t want to be viewed as some cartoon Indian character.”
Comment:  So two actual Biloxi Indians have said the Biloxi "Indians" are stereotypical and thus wrong. I wonder how many it'll take before the school gets the message.

For more on the subject, see Indians Aren't "Indian Enough" for Biloxi and Biloxi Indian Criticizes Biloxi "Indians."

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