Local Tribe Pulled into Mascot Controversy
Pierite says stereotyping--not name--is the problem
By Raymond L. Daye
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 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.”
For more on the subject, see Indians Aren't "Indian Enough" for Biloxi and Biloxi Indian Criticizes Biloxi "Indians."