April 30, 2015


Native activists took to Twitter to criticize Adam Sandler and his Ridiculous 6 movie:

Native activists tell Adam Sandler, Netflix they're #NotYourHollywoodIndian

Activists use hashtag #NotYourHollywoodIndian to pressure Netflix to cancel production of The Ridiculous Six

By John Bowman
As news of the walkout spread, Red Shirt-Shaw began posting about it on Twitter under the hashtag #NotYourHollywoodIndian, which was inspired by some of the actors' comments.

"I logged into social media and saw that a ton of people were talking about it, but that the ideas weren't consolidated, so I decided to try to push it out there," she said.

"I'm just moved by how it has grown and seeing the people come out and support it, and seeing news articles reference it," said Red Shirt-Shaw. "I think that we have to stand as a united front."

She also co-founded a petition on Change.org urging Netflix to cancel the production of The Ridiculous Six.

"We're really hoping that we can build up the signatures that are on there and present this to Netflix in a way that will say 'We're not going to support you. People have already cancelled their subscriptions. You guys really need to evaluate whether or not this is a project you want to move forward with in the future,'" she said.

So far, Netflix remains committed to the movie.
Can the recycled bigotry of Adam Sandler's Ridiculous Six do some good?

By Jaynie ParrishThe image of a 21st century American Indian is a twisted reality, especially in Hollywood and sports. Of course that’s been true since the first films were made about American Indians—or the first team names were chosen. That’s the legacy of the old world.

But, like many other marginalized groups, social media gives us a different way to amplify our message.

On Friday California writer Megan Red Shirt-Shaw created a hashtag, #notyourhollywoodIndian: “I applaud the actors who walked off that set,” she wrote. “A comedy directed & acted by Native American comedians would revolutionize comedy.”

Hashtags like these allow people to say what they believe without the filter of the mainstream press–and even to the mainstream press. Being heard gives us the ability to hold people accountable, even big name movie stars.

Hashtags aren’t enough, of course–they’re not our votes. And our outrage should also be directed at critical matters like better health care, safe water and improving the social and economic conditions Native Americans continue to face. A terrible Adam Sandler isn’t the worst of our problems–but if it brings us together and gives us a public platform, perhaps, inadvertently, the bigotry on display in his film will be a starting point for how we do change the world.
'Hey Adam ... Let's Talk': The #NotYourHollywoodIndian Q&A

By Arturo R. GarcíaWhat, if anything, could Sandler and Netflix do to help remedy the situation?

Red-Shirt Shaw: I would be lying if I didn’t say I hope they cancel this film—but I’m also still waiting to hear from the comedian himself. Until then, let’s keep telling him “Hey Adam, we’re #NotYourHollywoodIndian—let’s talk.”What do you think?

What happens next, both for this campaign and Native In America?

Red-Shirt Shaw: I hope that #NotYourHollywoodIndian changes the conversation in the film industry about Indigenous identity and that the movement is productive, that ultimately people are using their positivity and power to educate. I hope that Natives In America takes over the world. Period. On a smaller scale … I hope the entire amazing NIA team knows how much they are surprising and inspiring people with their stories about being Native in the 21st century. Until we break through that glass ceiling of who America thinks we are, we have to keep telling our tales. And we will.
Adam Sandler movie sparks debate over American Indian images

By Russell ContrerasIn recent years, Native Americans have been more outspoken.

For example, in 2013, some Native Americans were critical of Johnny Depp's portrayal on Tonto in the Disney version adaptation of "The Lone Ranger." Depp spoke in broken English, chanted prayers and wore a stuffed crow on his head. However, after a campaign by the movie to improve its image with Native Americans, Depp was eventually embraced on the Navajo Nation and was later adopted into the Comanche Nation.

A year before, the band No Doubt was forced to apologize and pull the music video "Looking Hot" after lead singer Gwen Stefani was criticize for dancing around teepees and wearing a series of American Indian-styled outfits.
Comment:  I believe activists tried to create a Twitterstorm using the #NotYourHollywoodIndian tag. But I saw only a few postings on the subject, and didn't hear anything about it afterward. I don't think it was a big success.

For more on Adam Sandler, see Native Actors Denounce Sandler and Vanilla Ice Defends Ridiculous 6.

April 29, 2015

Native actors denounce Sandler

'Our Dignity Is a Right' Say Native Actors Who Quit Adam Sandler Film

By Vincent SchillingWhat are your thoughts about bringing up Native rights in the context of the entertainment industry?

David Hill: I hope more people get on board for championing Native rights not just in movies or TV but wherever our rights are challenged. We have a non-Indian culture that complains about the rights that we do have. We have a non-Indian culture that pretty well complains about the rights we have that are different from theirs but the right to respect is something that exists through all cultures.

Our dignity is a right that we have to fight for. When you consider the suicide rates of our children, that is a direct result of destruction of culture, dignity, self image, and those things that make a person complete. We have to stand up somewhere, and what we did that day may not be much but it may have a butterfly effect to get people motivated to start and think that they can make a difference.

What do you say to the people who have expressed that this is a comedy and Native Americans are being too sensitive? Or to Netflix's statement that the movie is supposed to be ridiculous?

David Hill: When we were talking to them they said if you don’t like it, leave. We told them we will leave but this is not going to be the end of this. Them saying that this is a comedy and that this is a joke, that is nothing more than an excuse to perpetuate racism. It is a cover word to allow racism. The director said, "Adam Sandler makes fun of himself." But there is a difference between making fun of yourself and making fun of the people that are oppressed.
Dear Adam Sandler: I've Picked Your Indian Name

By Marc YaffeeI was very excited to hear you would be working in New Mexico to produce the first movie in your four-picture Netflix deal. The fact that you were casting a large group of Native actors and extras for The Ridiculous Six was a good sign. Diversity in films is always good and we have plenty of good Native actors willing and ready to work. Hell, your production company even hired a cultural advisor. I believe his name was Bruce. I’ve never heard of an Indian named Bruce. Was he actually an Indian or your cousin who had taken a Native American studies class? I don’t know but on the surface it appeared you were trying to do the right things.

Unfortunately, there was just one problem with the whole movie: you wrote it. I only read a small portion of the script but it was like taking one bite of tainted meat or one sip of rotten milk (hey, wait, I’m not eating meat and I’m lactose intolerant). It stinks. It’s not only offensive to Native Americans, it’s offensive to ALL Americans. Okay, especially Native Americans. Not every Native actor or extra walked off the set but I have a feeling that when it comes out on Netflix, the rest of them will wish they had.

If you want to lampoon and stereotype a people for laughs, at least be satirical and brilliant, instead of ignorant and unfunny. And next time you really want to Insult Indians, go old school and hire Italians and Mexicans to play them. At least no Indians would have to feel embarrassed about being in your movie. After all, our people have already suffered enough.
A letter to Adam Sandler

By Jon Santaanta ProudstarI am ashamed at your action or lack thereof. I am Hasidic Jew on my father’s side and take great pride in that as well as my Native and Hispanic heritage. You bring shame to the Jewish people. You, who belong to a race who faced a genocide, and relocation, theft, rape, indignation. These things our people share in common. What you have done is shown your ability to act as your oppressors once did.

I promise you we will have words someday Mr. Sandler.
As a Native Actor, I Applaud Those Who Walked off the Set of Adam Sandler’s Racist Movie

By Tyson HousemanWhen I was younger, I acted in some of the Twilight movies. I played a shape-shifting werewolf who was a member of a fictionalized version of the Quileute Tribe, a real Native American tribe in Washington. In light of the media coverage that Adam Sandler's newest racist pile of shit is receiving due to some Native American actors walking off the set because it's a racist pile of shit, I felt compelled to offer some insight up for public consumption from my own experiences as an Indigenous actor who has dealt with racism in the film industry. First of all I should note that I am fully aware of The Twilight Saga's problematic portrayal of Native Americans and the appropriation of real Quileute myths and traditions into fantasy. I say 'problematic' because these films offer the image of Native Americans basically as mythical creatures, but they are also some of the few Hollywood blockbusters depicting contemporary Native characters as opposed to fake historic relics of a romanticized early American frontier.

I knew that the character I was playing was problematic and I still did it because it was a huge opportunity. This problematic portrayal was never discussed on-set between actors or writers—it was kind of an elephant in the room. It's easy to take a moral stance on something but as we all know it's a lot fucking harder to stand by your morals when they are put to the test, which is why I have nothing but praise for the group of actors who were able to stick to their guns and walk off the set of Sandler's ridiculous shitpile. Indigenous actors face struggles of misrepresentation all the time, from racist typecasting to insensitive and false historical research, and I know from experience that it takes a great deal of courage to stand up to this. Unfortunately, the majority of the roles in film and TV for Indigenous actors are for characters like "the brave" or "the savage," one-liner characters that do nothing but add some colour to background shots or get killed when they foolishly attack the (white) protagonist (all of this comes from personal audition experience). So the attention this story has received over the past week goes to show that a good deal of people are ready to break free from the perpetuation of these ancient stereotypes. Regardless of that, this film will still be made.

So why have these stereotypes been allowed to persist in the Hollywood machine for so long? Why, in 2015, does Adam Sandler think it's okay to write female characters named "No Bra" and "Beaver's Breath" and to reduce an entire group of human beings into caricature? The "Hollywood Indian" stereotype has been allowed to endure because the image of an oppressed, colonized culture looks better from the perspective of the colonizers before that culture started being oppressed. Hollywood prefers its silent, stoic noble savage to any real modern day depiction of indigeneity in film. Colonial North American society is still more comfortable with their romanticized image of a proud race of people who once graced an untouched landscape and have since subserviently and willingly disappeared into the shadows to make way for the "rightful" owners of that landscape to manifest their destiny. This idea of the "vanishing Indian" has been vital to the relieving of colonial guilt because if we don't have to see them then we can just pretend their culture must be gone. Hence shoving us on tiny plots of land called reservations.
Comment:  For more on Adam Sandler, see Vanilla Ice Defends Ridiculous 6 and Natives Brave to Protest Sandler.

Below:  "Actors David Hill and Loren Anthony walked off the set of Adam Sandler's latest project."

April 28, 2015

Indians aren't "Indian enough" for Biloxi

Some postings show what happens when you engage with mascot fanatics:

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
Although the Biloxi High School has long been listed on the American Indian Sports Team Mascots website as racist, the recent display of its uniform blasphemy at D.C.’s Cherry Blossom Festival has opened the floodgates of opposition. Natives and their allies have stood up against racist mascots and symbolism for decades, but this new age of social media has helped to finally level the playing field. Voices that were once drowned out are finally being heard, especially in Washington where a racial slur is still being casually thrown around in the name of sports. Seeing this display of mockery–an entire marching band in sacred war bonnets–was something no person with any cultural sensitivity or a sense of respect could ignore.

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.”
Biloxi supporters and detractors argued back and forth until this:“If it turns out that they are in fact offended by the uniform,” McWilliams writes, “we will see if we can compromise as far as uniforms are concerned.” Not only does McWilliams confirm that there is no known consent by the Tunica-Biloxi people to use them as a mascot, but she states they will compromise–not resolve–on the issue of their offense.

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?
Below:  "Deloria Many Grey Horses-Violich whose Facebook account was repeatedly suspended due to her Indigenous surname."

Faith's conclusion:These Biloxi Alumni demonstrate they honor nothing but stereotypes, cultural appropriation, themselves, and the “Indian” ideal that genuine Natives are fighting to remove. They have no cultural sensitivity and refuse to obtain a proper education in the matter. Furthermore, while indigenous peoples are busy fighting for every aspect of their equality, they are being accused of having “more important things to do”. Apparently adults reminiscing over high school and working overtime to keep racism in the education system is a more important thing to do. These “BHS Indians” pass judgment on “real Indians,” calling them “racists” and “whiners” for standing up for their sovereignties and rights as human beings. As a result, more civilized residents of Biloxi have joined the anti-mascot side in sympathy of the Natives, saying they are disgusted with their ex-classmates’ words and their childish actions. In fact, many have signed our petition.

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.
Debating a Biloxi supporter

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 resident3. When a school, sports team, company, etc. chooses a mascot they seek out a symbol that reflects their beliefs and conveys a message about their organization, product, people, etc.

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??
Below:  Old school images show how Biloxi High students have always viewed Indians in false and stereotypical terms.

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 eyesHe said mockery, people. MOCKERY. This is the truest, most heartfelt opinion about the Tribe’s feelings that he could give. The fact is: we are not honoring them. At all. Period. End of discussion. There are ifs, ands, or buts. It’s a done deal. All these years, it’s been viewed as nothing but a mockery. And an imaginary honorary tradition. It was quite clear to me what this article said, even if just in the undertones of it.

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.
Comment:  For more on Biloxi High School, see Biloxi Headdresses Are "Dignified and Proper"? and Indians Protest Biloxi "Indians."


Deloria Many Grey Horses started a petition to change the nickname of the Biloxi High School Indians. This led Biloxi supporters to get her banned from Facebook. The reason? Because her Indian last name supposedly violated Facebook's policy against using fake names.

Bullies Can Silence Native Americans on Facebook With the Click of a MouseHere's what we're dealing with: If you disagree with an Indian activist, you can report her Facebook page as fake, get it shut down, disrupt her life and saddle her with the arduous task of proving her own identity to get reinstated. It's the rhetorical equivalent of punching someone in the mouth when you realize you're losing an argument.

Colorlines was on to this idea a month ago with the story "How White Separatists Disable Native American Facebook Accounts," although it hinges on putting credence in the statement from PLE, a very small group that is obviously seeking attention. But the events of last week support Colorlines' thesis. Around the time ICTMN was publishing Many Grey Horses' piece, her Facebook page was shut down for a second time. Activists from Not Your Mascot captured the following from a Facebook group supporting the Biloxi High School Band:
Although the capture above references "hate speech," Many Grey Horses wasn't suspended for hate speech, she was suspended as a fake profile. It's possible that this particular Biloxi supporter was not the only one who reported Many Grey Horses.

Activist and ICTMN contributor Jacqueline Keeler, who heads the group Eradicate Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM), has run into plenty of static from those who disagree with her online. To protest the actions against Many Grey Horses (who is Keeler's cousin), Keeler and EONM organized a campaign dubbed "All Natives Become Zuckerbergs! Protest FB Name Policy" (hashtagged as #IndigenizeZuckerberg) which called on Natives to change their last names to Zuckerberg (a reference to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg) and to use the following image on their profile:

For more on Biloxi High School, see Biloxi Headdresses Are "Dignified and Proper"? and Indians Protest Biloxi "Indians."

April 27, 2015

Vanilla Ice defends Ridiculous 6

Vanilla Ice Defends Adam Sandler’s ‘Ridiculous Six': It’s Not ‘Dances With Wolves’

By Alex StedmanAfter reports surfaced this week that a dozen Native Americans walked off the set of the comedy because of offensive jokes in the script, Vanilla Ice, who plays Mark Twain in the film, defended it to TMZ.

“It’s a comedy,” he said. “I don’t think anybody really had any ill feeling or any intent or anything. This movie isn’t ‘Dances With Wolves.’ It’s a comedy. They’re not there to showcase anything about anybody—they’re just making a funny movie, I think.”

“I don’t have anything to do with it,” he added. “I just play my part.”

Vanilla Ice also said he’s “part Choctaw,” so he sees both sides of the issue. The musician had previously worked with Sandler, appearing briefly in his 2012 film “That’s My Boy.”

Dances with Wolves wasn't a documentary, you dimwitted "musician." It was a piece of fiction, just like Ridiculous 6.

You've confirmed our point: that movies can and should be more authentic than your ridiculous trash. If Dances with Wolves can do it, so can Ridiculous 6.

Choctaw Nation citizens slam Vanilla Ice's shaky ancestry claimThis isn't the first time Vanilla Ice has claimed to be Indian. In a tweet from December 2013 that has since been deleted, he said he was "Chactaw" and that his grandmother was "full blood."

And last week, he posted a picture on Instagram from the set of the film in New Mexico. He boasted that he was with his "fellow Native's--Navajo, Apache, Comanche, Choctaw. Cherokee."

But citizens of the Choctaw Nation looked into the actor's heritage claims and found them to be without merit. Rachel Byington and Erin Pinder Spiceland researched his family tree and discovered that the "full blood" grandmother on his maternal side in fact was the descendant of German immigrants to the U.S.

"We think that Mr. Ice needs to study his family tree a little more, because we didn’t find a 'Chactaw Grandma' anywhere in it," Byington and Spiceland said in a press release.

"There’s a vast difference in self-identifying as a Native American person and being a member of a federally recognized tribe,” added Alicia Seyler, an attorney who also is a Choctaw citizen.
Comment:  For more on Adam Sandler, see Natives Brave to Protest Sandler and Sandler's Racist Ridiculous 6 "Jokes."

April 26, 2015

Natives brave to protest Sandler

An Open Letter to the Native Actors Who Walked Off Adam Sandler’s Set By Apache Writer

By Noel AltahaThere are a few issues I have with this whole film, with that being said, let me state just a few:

The fact that this film was about Apaches yet the actors were Navajo is a problem. So the film crew basically implicitly insinuated that Apaches can’t adequately portray themselves enough to be Apaches in this film. If that isn’t a whole other level of twisted, I don’t know what is. And y’all went along with it. That in itself seemed like a yellow flag to me indicating a warning sign of what’s to come. Like a coyote crossing your path. *sips tea

The fact that Adam Sandler is a man of Jewish heritage, a culture with a history remarkably similar to Indigenous Americans. We are both descendants of a Holocaust. In fact, Hitler was inspired by the American government for its tactics used in the first Holocaust. The one launched against Indigenous people in present day America. Why? Because the American government wanted our land. The American government then hid this “dirty little secret” so well from the history books in American schools and around the world. Maybe someone needs to send Adam and his film crew to have a chat with someone’s Rez grandma, she’ll set him straight.
Altaha's conclusion:Dear Native actors who walked off the scene of Adam Sandler’s film set,

When you walked off the set of the film at the point you realized they started disrespecting Apache women, I thank you.

I thank you for planting seeds in someone’s mind: that respect for women is non-negotiable.

This small act may contribute to the protection of the next several generations of Indigenous women and girl-child. Maybe other men will think differently. Thank you.
The bravery of the Native American actors who walked off Adam Sandler’s movie

By Alyssa RosenbergIt’s one thing to walk away from a production that you think is abusive, a project that has been misrepresented or a situation where your technical expertise is being misused if you have other opportunities. It’s something very different, and altogether braver, to do so when you know that even a degrading opportunity might not come again.

But there’s power in that decision, too. By refusing to play parts they found degrading, actors like Loren Anthony and David Hill are leaving Sandler, his producers and Netflix in a difficult position. Will they try to fill the roles with other Native American actors, trying to convince them to take on work that others have deemed destructive? Or will they be forced to use white actors in racial drag in the roles, making them the butt of jokes that previously would have been directed at people of color?

No matter what decisions Sandler and Netflix make, Anthony and Hill have laid down another marker for all the actors that follow them. Regardless of what mainstream Hollywood might say, some opportunities aren’t worth taking.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly Condemns Adam Sandler Film“Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter. I applaud these Navajo actors for their courage and conviction to walk off the set in protest,” President Shelly said. “Native people have dealt with negative stereotypes on film for too long.

“Enough is enough,” he added.
Comment:  For more on Adam Sandler, see Sandler's Racist Ridiculous Six "Jokes" and Sandler Crew "Bronzed" Navajo Actress.

April 25, 2015

Sandler's racist Ridiculous 6 "jokes"

These Are the Jokes That Caused Actors To Walk Off Adam Sandler's Set

By Jordan SargentThe scenes that caused the Native actors to leave the set appear to happen within the first 15 minutes or so of the film. Extra Loren Anthony, who spoke to Indian Country Today, described a scene involving a character named Beaver’s Breath as being particularly irritating to the extras:Here is the part in which a Native woman squats and pisses while smoking a peace pipe. The extras noted a character named “No Bra” as being a disrespectful parody of Native American names—there is no “No Bra” in the version of the script we have, though it appears as if that character’s original name, “Sits-On-Face,” was even worse.

Read a Page From the Adam Sandler Script That Caused Native Actors to Quit

By Vincent SchillingNative actors who walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s movie The Ridiculous Six managed to snap a quick photograph of one of the pages of the script that shows offensive language and insults to native women. In the scene, characters "Beaver Breath," "Smoking Fox" and "Never Wears Bra" discuss the novelty of toilet paper, and it is revealed that their own approach to hygiene involves keeping their private parts clean with dead animals.

Additionally, the characters speak in broken stereotypical English.

The script reads as follows:


The Creek area is busy. Braves spear-fish while children play in the water.

Smoking Fox is on the banks of the creek, doing laundry with her best friends: a 30-ish chubby woman, BEAVER BREATH, and a younger woman, NEVER WEARS BRA (both Apache).


I have a big idea for your wedding: we decorate trees with toilet paper!


What is this “toilet paper”?


Paper used to clean your chi-wat after taking a chungo.


That what dead squirrel for!

Another posting explains why Sandler's racist jokes don't qualify as satire:

The 'Ridiculous Six' Script Reveals "Offensive" Jokes That Caused Native American Actors To Walk Out

By Mark NewtonJust so we're all singing from the same hymn sheet, here is the definition of a 'satire':

The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

So, do the jokes presented above fall under satire? Well, one of the perhaps unwritten rules of satire is that it should ideally satirize the status quo or the mainstream, and satire has frequently been used by comedians to lampoon politicians and the powerful on all sides of the spectrum. Comedy becomes tricky when it appears to be directed at a minority which has historically been oppressed, often because they have little recourses to respond on the same level.

Of course, issues of race are also fair game for satire, especially how race is discussed within the mainstream media. But the important issue here is that the audience must understand any seemingly offensive views expressed by a character are not genuinely held by the actor saying them or the writer who wrote them--but are merely used to satirize views we know are held by some/or exist. Think, for example, Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.

The main problem with The Ridiculous Six script is that the ignorant people appear not to be the white characters, but the Native Americans--since they have the silly names and behave in an uncouth fashion. In this sense, the 'stupidity and vices' exposed belong to the Native Americans and not the white characters, suggesting this doesn't really fall under the traditional definition of satire. Of course, maybe Sandler is simply satirizing himself as a white, affluent comedy writer who does not understand the sensitivities of the Native Americans?
Comment:  Let's address the question of whether Ridiculous Six is a legitimate satire. For starters, who's the butt of the jokes: the Indians or someone else? If it's someone else, where is that in the script? Because it isn't evident in the excerpts.

Another way to put this is: How are these "jokes" any different from the ones in a racist movie? Again, if some "context" makes them different, where is it? Because it isn't evident in the excerpts.

True, we lack the entire script. But we have the judgments of the people who were there. They confirm what's evident in the excerpts--that the "jokes" are flat-out racist. Until Sandler and Netflix demonstrate otherwise, that judgment stands.

For more on Adam Sandler, see Natives Quit Adam Sandler Movie.

"Hurons" create hostile environment

EMU's Native American student group asks university for more support during rally (PHOTOS)

By Ben BairdNASO members made clear they are not satisfied with the university administration's response so far, both in regards to the students in red face as well as the reappearance of the Hurons logo on campus. The Hurons mascot was eliminated more than 20 years ago after a campus-wide effort was begun by four Native American women who found it disrespectful.

Davi Trusty, who was the president of NASO in 1991 when he attended EMU, said he feels it's a shame Native American students are still fighting the same issues that he fought.

If someone thinks it's okay to tell a Native American to go back to the reservation or to put makeup on their face and pretend to be an "Indian" something is wrong in that person's psyche, he said.

Trusty said they appreciate the love and support members of the community have shown following this incident.

Morseau said Kay McGowan, an adjunct professor at EMU who teaches anthropology and sociology classes, spoke to each of her classes April 15 about racism, disrespect toward women and the culture of erasure--of a dominant culture diminishing another.

McGowan, the only Native American professor on campus, subsequently received an email from someone identifying himself as "John Smith" who told her no harm was intended by what happened April 11 and that the Native American community was overreacting.

"This email alone demonstrates to us that these students involved do not understand what it is they have done and they certainly have yet to see the consequences deserved for what we consider to be a hate crime," Morseau said.
University Party in Michigan Reveals Unsafe Climate For Native American Students on Campus

By Simon Moya-SmithYet, although the Native American Huron mascot has been retired for nearly 25 years–and although the corresponding logo has since been deemed to reinforce negative stereotypes–the caricature still lives on in school-sanctioned band uniforms.

There’s also a website, the Huron Restoration Alumni Chapter, dedicated to the return of the Huron mascot where graduates can buy shirts and bumper stickers reading, “Once a Huron, Always a Huron.”

When ICTMN asked Larcom why the retired mascot is still used on official campus uniforms, he wrote that its in homage to an era of the band’s history. He added that the controversial logo is situated “on an inside flap of the jacket that is not publicly visible during performances or public appearances.”

‘Campus Culture Is Not Safe’

When Amber Morseau walked onto the EMU campus four years ago she couldn’t have known that one day she’d quit the university’s color guard in protest of the resurrection of the Huron mascot.

Morseau, who’s Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and the president of EMU’s Native American Student Organization (NASO), said it was at band camp during her junior year that the university added the ousted Huron mascot to the uniforms.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “The band director said there was absolutely nothing they could do.”

Morseau and other members of NASO later approached university President Susan Martin who admitted to them that she personally authorized the resurrection of the old Indian mascot. Morseau said she told Martin that the mascot creates a hostile environment for the few Native American students there are on campus. She asked Martin if that mattered.

“She avoided the question,” Morseau said.
Hurons logo disagreement continues between EMU, Native American student group

By Ben BairdAmber Morseau, NASO president, said she believes the Hurons logo helped lead to this party and she's concerned more incidents like it could happen. She feels EMU should do more to have preventative measures in place.

NASO was told there are no plans to remove the Hurons logo from EMU's band uniforms, she said. Money is a factor for the university's decision, she said, as the uniforms were costly: around $140,000.
And a 2012 report on the return of the Hurons logo:

EMU brings back Indian logo, despite criticism

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Native Students Protest EMU's Racism and EMU Students in Redface Taunt Indian.

Below:  Savage Hurons aka Indians.

Biloxi Indian criticizes Biloxi "Indians"

Two weeks after the Biloxi "Indians" controversy broke out, we finally heard from people connected with the real Biloxi Indians:

Biloxi Indians aren't complaining about band's use of name, headdress

Spokesman says he's heard no mention of issue

By Paul Hampton
There are no Biloxi Indians in or around Biloxi. They moved on to Louisiana about the time the first Europeans started poking around the area that is now the Mississippi Coast.

And the 600 or so who live on and near the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation in and around Marksvillle, La., don't seem much concerned that a high school band is using their name and ceremonial headdresses. No one from the tribe returned phone calls or emails requesting a comment.

The tribe's Facebook page and websites are more concerned with their lucrative Paragon Casino Resort, an upcoming Pow-Wow and a Language and Culture Camp.

"It hasn't come up in the year I've been working with them," said Malcolm Ehrhardt of the tribe's PR firm, The Ehrhardt Group.

Raymond Daye, co-editor of the Avoyelles Today newspaper in Marksville, said he hasn't heard any complaints of that nature from the tribe.

"I don't think they've ever complained about that," he said. "I think 'more business and less politics' is the motto over there."
A lack of complaint about an issue that hasn't come up is basically nothing, of course. It's a far cry from approving or disapproving the mascotry.

Unlike the non-Native PR flack quoted above, here's what an actual Tunica-Biloxi Indian had to say:

Educate yourself about the people of Tunica-Biloxi

By Jean-Luc PieriteThe headdress worn by the Biloxi High School band is an ill-informed costume-design choice.

That said, our communities are faced with such challenges that if a group of outsiders would parade in mockery under the guise of honor, then it wouldn't make much difference.

It neither hurts nor helps my Tribe's unemployment rate.

Nor does it determine the fate of crucial social programs that have gone underfunded since the decline of our so-called "lucrative" enterprise.

For the Biloxi-Chitimacha, to my knowledge, your "honor" does not rebuild their homes.

Nor does it provide them with the resources to legitimize the claim that they continue as they have for centuries as an indigenous population.
Comment:  For more on Biloxi High School, see Biloxi Headdresses Are "Dignified and Proper"? and Indians Protest Biloxi "Indians."

April 24, 2015

Sandler crew "bronzed" Navajo actress

Navajo Actress Explains Why She Left Adam Sandler 'Ridiculous 6' Set

"That's not comedy when it comes to Native American stereotypes because we're always portrayed as the 'drunk Indian,' and that's just perpetuating those stereotypes," Allie Young says

By Daniel Kreps
After a dozen Native Americans hired to play extras on Adam Sandler's Netflix-produced western Ridiculous 6 ditched the set, one Navajo actress named Allie Young sat down with MSNBC to discuss the many reasons why they decided to leave the production. In addition to the script that they found offensive and disrespectful, the extras felt that the comedy–a play on The Magnificent Seven–furthered century-old stereotypes about Native Americans, Mediate reports.

"I'm full-blooded Navajo and they bronzed me. I was quite confused," Young said of the makeup department darkening her skin to make her look more stereotypically like a Native American. Young also revealed that the film's cultural consultant was the first person to leave the set. "That says something when the cultural advisor for the film quits because he's offended," she said.

Much has been made of the script giving characters names like "Beaver Breath" and "No Bra," but that was just the tip of how offensively the production viewed Native American women. "There was one instance where one of the Native American women, played by a white actress, is passed out on the ground and the group of white men are throwing liquor on her and she jumps up and starts dancing with everybody else," Young says of her breaking point to leave the film. "That's not comedy when it comes to Native American stereotypes because we're always portrayed as the 'drunk Indian,' and that's just perpetuating those stereotypes."
We Talked to a Native American Actress Who Walked Off Adam Sandler's Movie

By Zach SchonfeldIn a conversation with Newsweek, extra Allie Young, who is full-blooded Navajo, explained why she objected to the film, which has been picked up to premiere on Netflix next year.

"I take this very personally because my little brother committed suicide when he was 17 because of racism," Young said. "In his suicide note, he said, 'It's hard to stay alive when you're brown and gifted.' I want to take a stand for native and indigenous youth. I want them to see their people portrayed as something better."

An aspiring screenwriter and founder of the Survival of the First Voices festival, Young researched Hollywood depictions of Native Americans when she was a student at Dartmouth. She jumped at the chance to be an extra in The Ridiculous Six because she wanted to see how things had changed. She soon realized they hadn't much at all.

"At one point early on I was going in to makeup and being bronzed, and the wardrobe was not Apache traditional wear," Young explained. "I'm full-blooded Navajo. I was a little bit confused as to why I was being bronzed. I'm light-skinned. Maybe they wanted me to look darker."

The script posed more issues, including offensive names for indigenous women, like "Beaver's Breath" and "Wears No Bra." In one scene, a Native American women is passed out on the ground. A group of white men pours liquor on her, and she wakes up and starts dancing. "In Indian country, we're battling that issue right now," Young said. "It's 2.5 times more likely for an indigenous woman to be raped or sexually assaulted. Movies like this perpetuate that and just add to the stereotypes of our native women."
Comment:  A full-blooded Navajo made darker? Subjected to "redface" even though she's already "red"?

How exactly does this contribute to Sandler's "humor"? Answer: It doesn't.

It's clearly an attempt to make the Indians stranger and more exotic. That is, to make them less human and more animal-like. To "other" them.

There's no explanation for this other than racism. Indians look dark, according to the filmmakers, and white people don't. Which is why activists have rightly labeled Adam Sandler and Netflix racist.

For more on Adam Sandler, see Natives Quit Adam Sandler Movie.

April 23, 2015

Natives quit Adam Sandler movie

Native Actors Walk off Set of Adam Sandler Movie After Insults to Women, Elders

By Vincent SchillingApproximately a dozen Native actors and actresses, as well as the Native cultural advisor, left the set of Adam Sandler’s newest film production, The Ridiculous Six, on Wednesday. The actors, who were primarily from the Navajo nation, left the set after the satirical western’s script repeatedly insulted native women and elders and grossly misrepresented Apache culture.

The examples of disrespect included Native women’s names such as Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, an actress portraying an Apache woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe, and feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee.

The film, which is said to be a spoof of The Magnificent Seven and was written by Adam Sandler and his frequent collaborator Tim Herlihy, is currently under production by Happy Madison Productions for a Netflix-only release. The movie will star Adam Sandler, Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice.

Among the actors who walked off the set were Navajo Nation tribal members Loren Anthony, who is also the lead singer of the metal band Bloodline, and film student Allison Young. Anthony says that though he understands the movie is a comedy, the portrayal of the Apache was severely negligent and the insults to women were more than enough reason to walk off the set.
American Indian actors quit Adam Sandler movie over names

By Russell ContrerasGoldie Tom, another extra who departed the set Wednesday, said producers told the group to leave if they felt offended and that script changes were not up for debate.

"This just shows that Hollywood has not changed at all," Tom said.

She added the production had a number of non-Native American actors portraying American Indians, a long-standing complaint about the movie industry.

The actors said a Native American consultant hired by the production also walked off the set.

Native American Actors Walk Off Adam Sandler Set in Protest

Netflix defends film as "a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized"

By Jon Blistein
Netflix has defended Adam Sandler and his upcoming movie The Ridiculous Six after roughly a dozen Native Americans actors and actresses, as well as the film's Native cultural adviser, walked off the New Mexico set, claiming the script was offensive and disrespectful, Deadline reports.

Per Indian Country Today Media Network, the performers, who were primarily from the Navajo nation, took issue with jokes that insulted native women (characters were given names like Beaver's Breath and No Bra) and misrepresented Apache culture (one shot called for a woman to be simultaneously urinating and smoking a peace pipe). Others also pointed out that everything from the costumes to the positioning of feathers on a teepee was inaccurate, if not inappropriate.

While neither Sandler nor anyone from his production company, Happy Madison, have commented on the incident so far, a spokesperson for Netflix said: "The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of—but in on—the joke."

Those that walked off the Ridiculous Six set said they received similar, if not more curt, responses from producers after voicing their concerns. David Hill, a 74-year-old man of Choctaw descent, compared their arguments to those Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder uses to defend the team's outdated name, while Allison Young, Navajo, told ICTMN: "They just told us, 'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.' I was just standing there and got emotional and teary-eyed. I didn’t want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way."
Native American extras storm off set of new Adam Sandler film over racist jokes that called woman 'Badger Breath' and made fun of their culture

By Chris SpargoMaking matters worse says Anthony is that no one felt like they were being listened to by the production team.

'They just treated us as if we should just be on the side,' said Anthony.

'When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy.'

The cultural adviser meanwhile asked to speak to Sandler according to one extra, but was refused, and when that extra, Goldie Tom, later complained, she was told; 'It's in the script and we are not going to change it.'
Video: Adam Sandler's Producer To Native Actors: 'Sensitive? You Can Leave'

By Vincent SchillingIn an exclusive video obtained by one of the actors on set, Goldie Tom, Native Actors discuss their disappointment on the set of the Adam Sandler movie. During the discussion one of the producers tells the actors, “Here’s the thing, If you are overly sensitive about it… then you should probably leave.”

The actors are visibly frustrated at the remarks.

Adam Sandler film angers some Native American actors

Native American cast leaves Adam Sandler flick: ‘Nothing has changed—we’re still just Hollywood Indians’

April 22, 2015

Native students protest EMU's racism

Native American group holds protest at EMU following racial incident

By Melanie MaxwellNative Americans attending a rally at Eastern Michigan University Wednesday had a message for the dozen or so students involved in a recent racial incident: apologize.

Nathaniel Phillips, the Native American man who reported the harassment to police, was on hand playing a drum and shaking hands of the hundred or so people who gathered to listen to members of the Native American Student Organization speak outside the EMU Student Center.

Amber Morseau, president of NASO, said the response from the university and the EMU students who allegedly heckled and threw a beer can at Phillips while they were wearing headdresses with painted faces has not been satisfactory. The NASO considers the acts "racist" and a "hate crime."

"We as natives and we as human beings will not accept this silence," she said. "It is unacceptable for us, our relatives, our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers."
EMU takes action

Coincidentally, or perhaps in response to the protest, school officials acted the same day:

EMU investigates report of students dressed as Native Americans during off-campus party

By Ben Baird and Austen Smith"Eastern Michigan University takes these matters very seriously and remains strongly committed to maintaining a respectful, inclusive and safe environment, in which acts that seek to inflict physical, psychological or emotional harm on specific demographic groups will not be tolerated," according to the university's statement.

"The investigation into this matter is ongoing, and will be guided by the university's policies and procedures that govern student conduct."

The university changed its mascot from the Hurons to the Eagles on May 22, 1991. It marked the end of more than 60 years of tradition.

The EMU Board of Regents initiated the mascot name change after an Oct. 1988 Michigan Department of Civil Rights report questioning the use of Native American imagery by school athletics. The report stated use of names, logos and mascots promoted racial stereotypes.
EMU announces chief diversity officer job after racially charged incidents

By Jeremy AllenPresident Susan Martin announced Wednesday that Eastern Michigan University was creating a chief diversity officer.

The announcement came less than a week after the university sent a campus-wide email detailing a confrontation April 11 between several students dressed in native American garb and an Ypsilanti resident of native American descent at an off-campus party.

In her email to campus announcing the position, Martin said that incident was one of several that have raised issues of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Days before the altercation at the party, four student protesters were detained at a screening of the movie "American Sniper." They were protesting because they said the movie was insensitive toward Muslims.
"Hurons" name lingers

EMU's Native American student group asks university for more support during rally (PHOTOS)

By Ben BairdNASO members made clear they are not satisfied with the university administration's response so far, both in regards to the students in red face as well as the reappearance of the Hurons logo on campus. The Hurons mascot was eliminated more than 20 years ago after a campus-wide effort was begun by four Native American women who found it disrespectful.

Davi Trusty, who was the president of NASO in 1991 when he attended EMU, said he feels it's a shame Native American students are still fighting the same issues that he fought.

If someone thinks it's okay to tell a Native American to go back to the reservation or to put makeup on their face and pretend to be an "Indian" something is wrong in that person's psyche, he said.

Trusty said they appreciate the love and support members of the community have shown following this incident.

Morseau said Kay McGowan, an adjunct professor at EMU who teaches anthropology and sociology classes, spoke to each of her classes April 15 about racism, disrespect toward women and the culture of erasure--of a dominant culture diminishing another.

McGowan, the only Native American professor on campus, subsequently received an email from someone identifying himself as "John Smith" who told her no harm was intended by what happened April 11 and that the Native American community was overreacting.

"This email alone demonstrates to us that these students involved do not understand what it is they have done and they certainly have yet to see the consequences deserved for what we consider to be a hate crime," Morseau said.
Comment:  No one said it explicitly, but the racist frat party with students in redface is a perfect example of what the NCAA criticized. Namely, how Indian mascots create a "hostile and abusive environment." What could be more hostile than telling an actual to go back to the reservation? Or assaulting him with a beer can?

The students claimed they were "Hurons"--meaning wild savages who could do whatever they wanted. The "Hurons" identity created this problem. It gave them a license to indulge in ugly behavior, and to blame it on the Indians.

That's what Indian mascots do. And that's why they have to go.

For more on the subject, see What "Go Back to the Reservation" Means and EMU Students in Redface Taunt Indian.

Biloxi headdresses are "dignified and proper"?

School mascots: What’s in a name?

By Therese ApelIndian Country Today Media Network published an angry column in which Deloria Many Grey Horses thanks the school for bringing awareness to the objectification of Native Americans in today’s world.

“Dehumanizing of Native Americans is not acceptable,” she said, berating the school for not only the mascot but the fact that the band members wore American Indian headdresses in the parade.

“My struggles in life motivated me to stand up to Biloxi High School. I reposted the article, and a community leader whom I greatly respect encouraged me to call the school to make a complaint,” Many Grey Horses wrote.

Biloxi School District Superintendent Arthur McMillan did not have much to say on the subject.

“Our band represents Biloxi—and not only Biloxi but the Coast and the state—in a very dignified and proper manner. And we’re very proud of them,” he said.
Yes, many many people think Plains headdresses are "dignified and proper." That's why they steal appropriate and wear these headdresses--to look like something they're not. To pretend to be dignified and proper people of another race.

It's called blackface when white people dress up as African Americans. It's called redface when they dress up as Native Americans. Same problem, same offense.

This practice stereotypes all Indians as headdress-wearing savages from the 19th century. It causes racism and ignorance toward today's Indians to flourish. And that causes proven psychological harm.

These Biloxi "Indians" are living proof of this ignorance. They don't know jack about the people they're supposedly honoring.

Even a Biloxi defender sort of gets it:

Biloxi "Indians" mascot offensive? Some Native Americans shout 'Yes!'

By Joe RogersPerhaps the most egregious offense Biloxi stands accused of is historical inaccuracy: The protesters note that headdresses were worn by Plains Indians, not the Biloxi variety.

"So I would suggest to the Biloxi Alumni that if you're talking about honoring or respecting the Biloxi Tribe, please show respect to the actual traditions of the Biloxi Tribe," Ms. Violich/Many Grey Horses exhorts in an article under her byline in the Indian Country publication under the heading, "I Am Not Your Mascot, Biloxi!"

If I were a Biloxi "Indian," that criticism would sting a bit. And I don't know how long the headdresses have been part of the uniform; pictures I've seen from the 1970s show band students in simple headbands, with a few features protruding from the rear.

Perhaps a return to that would appease the protesters. But I doubt it.
Comment:  For more on Biloxi High School, see Indians Protest Biloxi "Indians" and Biloxi Indians Learn They're Offensive.

April 21, 2015

Indians protest Biloxi "Indians"

Houska: 'I Didn't Know' Doesn't Cut It Anymore

By Tara HouskaI was at the Georgetown waterfront enjoying the sun when I received a message from my friend Sarah Crawford, a citizen of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. The Biloxi High School band from Mississippi was marching in the parade, and every single student was wearing a faux headdress that would be the envy of Coachella. Sarah sent me a video of nearly two hundred students clad in bright red and white headdresses, expressing her shock and discomfort at the display.

Here, in the Nation’s Capital, home of the most prominent Native mascot debate in the country, an entire brigade of high school students proudly wore the embodiment of cultural appropriation. Immediately the question of whether it was intentional came to mind–not one of these students had a fleeting moment of hesitation? Not one envisioned the subsequent petition denouncing their choice of attire?
And:The history of playing Indian in the United States is a long one, harkening back to the days when government-sponsored genocide of Native peoples was the norm. Sentimental racism is difficult for many to let go of; love of team, love of romanticized Native American cultures is far easier to accept than the harsh realities of the historic and ongoing treatment of a people that continue to exist.

But frankly, at this point it’s getting old. Sentimental racism is still racism. With every new appropriation incident, with every new protest or educational event organized by Native communities, it becomes more and more difficult to legitimately claim: “I didn’t know.”
I Am Not Your Mascot, Biloxi!

By Deloria Many Grey HorsesOn Tuesday morning April 13, 2015, I was reading through my newsfeed on Facebook. I came across an Indian Country article on F.A.I.R. Media (Fair Accurate Indigenous Representation). The article featured the Biloxi “Indians” High School marching band from Biloxi, Mississippi wearing headdresses as part of the band uniforms. The band, made up of 81 students, recently preformed in Washington, DC at the National Cherry Blossom Festival. On national television, the entire band performed in Native American Plains-style headdresses.

I remember taking a deep breath as my heart sank into my stomach. As an Indigenous woman from the Blackfoot Confederacy, Chickasaw, and Yankton Sioux Nations I have experienced racism first hand. I am visibly First Nations/Native American and I also carry my maternal grandfather’s last name Many Grey Horses. As a child, I was teased for being a "dirty squaw" and told to get back to the reserve where I belonged. As a child in elementary school it was hard not to internalize these hateful remarks from peers and adults. Research has shown racism is a learned behavior from birth to the teenage years. My peers didn’t just wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be a racist.” Rather, the most likely place where they learned racism—consciously and unconsciously—is in their homes. I recall feeling isolated, dreading the first day of class each year just because I knew the teachers would be calling out our last name. I always felt targeted for being different. I saw the subtle dirty looks directed at my appearance, coming from peers and even teachers. The unspoken message came across loud and clear: That my Nativeness does not have a place in the aesthetic of colonialism.
And:My struggles in life motivated me to stand up to Biloxi High School. I reposted the article and a community leader whom I greatly respect encouraged me to call the school to make a complaint. Although, the school did not answer any of my calls I was able to leave a complaint with the Biloxi Superintendent's office. I thought to myself, “Why stop here?” With the help of a fellow Berkeley alum and another community advocate, I started a petition on Change.org requesting Biloxi to please change their band uniform and mascot.

Within four days, we got over 500 signatures. People across Turtle Island who are just as passionate on the subject took to social media and help raise awareness about the petition. I was pleased with the support the petition was getting, so I shared an update on my Facebook page yesterday. Within a few hours I received an email from Facebook stating that I had been reported for using a fake name and my account was temporarily shut down. I had to provide a government-issued ID in order to have my account reactivated.

Biloxi High School Alumni are defending themselves by stating they are "honoring" Native Americans—when it appears they are simply "playing Indian," something that doesn't honor us at all. The available research on the history on the Biloxi Tribe reveals that the majority of the Biloxi Nation was decimated by the chicken pox epidemic in the 1800s and then the remaining members were forcibly removed to Missouri. The Biloxi language is extinct and their traditional headdress is not the Northern Plains style headdress.

So I would suggest to the Biloxi Alumni that if you're talking about honoring or respecting the Biloxi Tribe, please show respect to the actual traditions of the Biloxi Tribe.
Comment:  For more on Biloxi High School, see Biloxi Indians Learn They're Offensive and Biloxi High School Stereotypes Indians.

April 20, 2015

Biloxi Indians learn they're offensive

It took a few days, but the Biloxi High School Indians eventually learned they'd done something wrong. Namely, trivializing the Plains Indian cultures located a thousand miles away.

Biloxi Indians band uniform sparks controversy

By Trang Pham-BuiA symbol of pride for the Biloxi High family has come under fire. A recent online article criticizes the Biloxi High marching band's uniform. The controversy was sparked by the band's recent appearance in a parade in Washington D.C. The article specifically targets the band members' feather headdresses, saying they are disrespectful to Native American cultures.Most of the short article was devoted to letting the mascot lovers defend their stereotypical actions without challenge:"It's not disrespecting Indians in any manner, because it was not done in disrespect when it started," said Edwards.

"I think it's a crock. They need to leave it alone," said Artie Desporte.
And:"I don't see how it's hurting anybody. It's just a tradition for the school. It was the mascot and everything, and it went along with the school. I mean, if they change it, it's not going to be the same," said Desporte. "I don't see where it's anybody's business or it's hurting anybody putting on those outfits. It ain't like they're trying to down them. They're just proud of their heritage."

"I think everyone has their point of view. From my point of view, the Biloxi High Indian band kept me in school, kept a lot of folks in school, kept the community together, kept pride in the community," said Edwards. "Biloxi is a proud town. It has a heritage, and for the folks in their 70s and 80s that remember this school for what it was, there was a lot of pride in this community."

You're marching in freakin' headdresses in Washington DC and that's not our business?! Stay behind 10-foot walls and put bags over your heads if you don't want to share your mascots publicly. Otherwise, you're clearly telling us about your "Indian" pride, sending us a message, and that certainly is our business.

f you were walking down the street with a Confederate flag or a black dummy in a noose, would that also be none of our business? Wrong, you blithering idiot. Racism that affects everyone is everyone's business.

You wanted a public reaction to your public display of headdresses. Now you're getting one. Stop whining about it like babies and start dealing with it like adults.

Protests continue

Meanwhile, the protests continued:

Petition asks Biloxi to change Indian mascot

Petition calls for Biloxi High School to stop using Indians name, headdresses; counter-petition started

By Regina Zilbermints
The Biloxi School District has been drawn into the national debate over whether it's acceptable for schools or sports teams to appropriate Native American words or imagery.

One online petition, asking the Biloxi Indians to ditch the mascot, has gotten more than 680 supporters. A counter petition, asking officials to keep the name, has garnered more than 1,900 signatures.

Biloxi school officials, though, say they aren't interested in wading into the fray.

"It's not an issue locally," said Biloxi School District Superintendent Arthur McMillan. "Our band represents Biloxi, and not only Biloxi but the Coast and the state, in a very dignified and proper manner. And we're very proud of them."
The petition in question:

Please change your Band uniforms and Mascot #notyourmascot

And the predictable counter-petition:

Save the Biloxi High School Mascot & TraditionThe BHS Indian mascot and headdress is not to be offensive, rather to show our pride and honor to be able to represent our strong history here in Mississippi.I like how they declare the headdress "is not to be offensive." As if their wishes and hopes mean anything to us.

Fact is, non-Natives wearing Plains headdresses are offensive to many Indians. It doesn't matter what the non-Natives' intent is. All that matters is the physical act of misusing the headdress for non-ceremonial reasons.

And I love how they talk about "our strong history." Their strong history of not being Native, not knowing Natives, not knowing anything about Natives. Their strong "history" of ignoring or misrepresenting the actual Biloxi Indians. Of falsely portraying them as warbonneted chiefs of the Plains rather than the Delta.

So they're targeting a single race for false and harmful stereotyping. What's it called when you discriminate against one race? Oh, yeah...racism.

I like how the image on the "don't change" petition proves how stereotypical the Biloxi mascot is. He's savage!

April 19, 2015

What "go back to the reservation" means

At the racist EMU party, frat boys in redface told an Indian to go back to the reservation. The "go back" sentiment often crops up when Indians dare to challenge white people.

Here's another example:

Lancaster School Board Candidate Agrees Indians Should 'Go Back to the Reservation'

By Simon Moya-SmithOn March 16, the Lancaster School Board held a special meeting where it announced the immediate retirement of the school’s mascot. The high school there has been mired in controversy every since two opposing schools refused to play Lancaster’s lacrosse team on account of its logo and moniker.

School board candidate Kelly Hughes Depczynski responded to a Facebook rant on March 9 where the writer, going only by the name of Lin, said Native American students who find the name offensive should, instead, get their education on the reservation rather than Lancaster.

“If this American Indian at Lancaster and his family are so ‘offended’ … maybe the school board can gently refer him to go back to the reservation for his education,” Lin wrote.

Lin also argued that Native Americans in Lancaster, New York who are offended by the school’s mascot shouldn’t have moved there to begin with.

“Maybe if ‘Redskins’ is too offensive they shouldn’t have moved to that district,” Lin wrote.
The contempt for real-life Indians is obvious. But writer Ramone Romero delves into what white folks mean when they say "Go back to the reservation."

What Does it Mean to Say to an Indian, “Go back to the reservation”?

By Ramone RomeroWhen Phillips replied that this was not honoring Natives—that it was racist instead—they started telling him to, “Go back to the reservation, you F-ing Indian, get the F out of here!”

Okay, obviously their “honoring” of Natives had absolutely nothing to do with honoring Natives. This is characteristic of sports teams using Native American names and mascots. It’s about sports and sounding like fighters, sounding strong and savage; it has nothing to do with honoring real living Natives. And this isn’t the first time that Natives have been told to “Go back to the Reservation!” when they protested Native mascotry.

But think about two things here.


Have you ever thought about what it means to tell an Indian to “Go back to the reservation”?

Of course it is completely racist. Thinking that you have the authority to tell an Indian to “Go back to the reservation” shows that you feel they are racially inferior and you are racially superior (otherwise you would have no authority to tell them where to go). But it’s much more than racist.

All of North America is their land. Never mind that most Natives actually don’t live on reservations, ask yourself: Why did Native people lose their homeland when they used to live free on the whole continent? What happened? Which side broke treaty after treaty (and is still breaking treaties now–just the other day the state of Michigan transferred 8,000 acres of treaty-protected land to a mining company)? Which side took away children and sent them to boarding schools where they weren’t allowed to speak their languages, got beaten if they did, and got abused in countless other ways? Which side didn’t have religious freedom until 1979? Which side had generations of children stolen and “adopted” to families outside of their community?

What does it mean to say to an Indian, “Go back to the reservation”?

It means, “Stay oppressed.” “Stay beaten down.” “We are better than you.” “You don’t belong in your homeland.” “You have to obey and go away because you’re inferior.” “You don’t matter.” “You’re nothing.” “Go back to your confinement.”

Saying “Go back to the reservation” to a Native American is nothing less than agreeing with the genocide America committed against them, and doing your part to continue it.

April 18, 2015

Native stereotypes mirror black stereotypes

Joe the African American and Waya the Cherokee discuss mascots:

Extremely Awkward Conversation With a Native American at Redskins Game

By Dolph L. HatfieldJoe looked rather perplexed and responded, “Listen man, Redskins has been used as a term of honor and pride of Native Americans for 80 years and wearing an Indian headdress has been acceptable for as long as I can remember.” Waya said “Black faced minstrel shows and painted black faces began in the 1840s and continued in this country until the 1960s.”

Waya continued, “People are constantly telling me that the ‘R’ word means honor, but they have no idea how it really feels to an American Indian who associates the term with its history of being derogatory. Indeed, its history is deeply rooted in hatred; it’s even defined in the dictionary as a racial slur to American Indians.” Waya paused then continued. Waya proceeded. “Don’t you think that the affected party is the one who really decides what is racist and what isn’t?” Joe interrupted and, in a more consoling tone, said “Waya, I’d like to hear more of what you are talking about. The crowd is beginning to come in. Let’s slip out where there is less noise and I want to hear more. But PLEASE WIPE THAT CHARCOAL OFF YOUR FACE!” Waya took a towel from his coat and began to wipe his face. Joe, to the amazement of everyone sitting around him, removed his headdress. The two gentlemen began walking towards an exit, while Waya continued wiping the blackness from his face.

The two gentlemen found a quiet place somewhat away from the incoming crowd. Joe said “Go on Waya, you’ve got the floor and this better be good for me to miss part of my game.”

Waya continued “Joe, what you guys experienced is what we are going through now. If I’m not mistaken, in the early civil rights movement, the major emphasis of Black America was confronting many hardships like voting, education and unemployment inequalities, having to ride at the back of buses, separate eating, restroom and theater facilities, that were common place in the South. When the 1964 Civil Rights Act began taking affect and the unconscionable ways of treating African Americans were changing, your leaders turned their attention to addressing issues, such as stereotyping. Just think of the names and caricatures like the ‘N’ word, ‘boy’, ‘spade’, ‘jig’, ‘Sambo’, ‘Aunt Jemima’, ‘Jim Crow’, ‘Sapphire’ and ‘the Mammy’, and public spectacles, such as, painted black faces and black faced minstrel shows that your people said were demeaning. Many whites claimed that this was the way of life in America and it had been that way for years, many said they were only having some good, clean fun, meant no harm and there was no racism intended. But fortunately for blacks, much of white society realized the injustices of how Black America had been treated and they accepted that these acts that you,“ Waya pointed gently at Joe and continued “the affected party, said were stereotyping, and change occurred.” The two men looked at each other and Joe rubbed his head. “Waya, I have to agree with a lot you have said, please go on.”

“Thanks, Joe!” and Waya continued, “These changes did not come overnight and typecasting of blacks had been a way of life in America for many, many years. To my knowledge, there were no polls taken to see what percentage of blacks, or for that matter, other Americans, were opposed to these uses of derogatory words or stereotyping in general. But, Joe, there were many polls that have been conducted to see how many American Indians or Washington team fans think the ‘R’ word is racist.”

Waya realized that Joe was beginning to see his point and proceeded “I have often wondered if a poll had been taken among blacks, primarily living in the Deep South in the mid to late 1960’s, whether they cared that much about typecasting or the many other issues that Black America was facing. Recall that virtually all of the blacks in the South depended on whites for their jobs and livelihood. I would guess that the vast majority would have said these issues are not that important--wouldn’t they more likely have said that our jobs and livelihood depend on whites and we have to survive!”

April 17, 2015

EMU students in redface taunt Indian

Last week someone on Facebook said he'd heard a rumor about an incident at Easter Michigan University. Turns out it was true.

EMU investigating allegations of racism where off-campus students were dressed as Native Americans

By Jane ParkEastern Michigan University is investigating allegations of racism after more than a dozen students dressed in Native American garb were involved in an altercation with a man who confronted them about their behavior.

It happened last Saturday at an off-campus residence on Ballard St.

Nathan Phillips tells 7 Action News he was walking in the neighborhood when he came upon a loud college party that seemed harmless enough.

“About the same time I noticed them, some of them noticed me and waved me over,” Phillips said.

When he approached closer, he saw about 30 to 40 students partying and noticed that about half of them were wearing “Redface” and sporting feathered headpieces.

Phillips asked the students what they were doing. They told him they were honoring Native Americans and told Phillips, “We’re the F-ing Hurons!” EMU’s nickname used to be the Hurons before the university changed it to the Eagles in the ‘90s.

Phillips responded, “This isn’t honoring us, this is racist. And as soon as I said ‘racist,' it turned from honoring the Indians to, ‘Go back to the reservation, you F-ing Indian, get the F out of here.’"

In the scuffle, someone threw a beer can at Phillips.
Eastern Michigan University Investigating “Red-Face” Party Which Led to Racial Slur Towards Elderly American Indian Man

By Levi RickertThe American Indian man addressed some students who were red-faced, bare-chested and wearing headdresses told them what they were doing was offensive to American Indians and racist.

One person at the “red-face” party told the elderly American Indian man: “We are Hurons and we are doing a ceremony to impregnate women.”

Using a variety of expletives, the students told him to “go back to the reservation” and threw a can of beer at him, which hit him in the chest.

The man called the Ypsilanti Police Department who took a report and broke up the party. No arrests were made.

Eastern Michigan University used the “Hurons” name and American Indian logo from 1929 until the early 1991. The state university dropped the Hurons name after much resistance of its use from American Indians. The school now uses the Eagles name. Two years ago, the school began to use the Hurons logo on their band uniforms.
College students in ‘red face’ mock native elder, claim racist party is ceremony to ‘impregnate women’

By David EdwardsNative American Student Organization Vice President said that the incident left her worried that native students would not feel safe on campus.

“We know that cultural appropriation very often leads violence to towards the culture that is being appropriated,” she explained, adding that any use of the word “hurons” fostered “dehumanization of our community.”

In a statement released last week, Eastern Michigan University said that officials were investigating the incident.

“Officials at Eastern Michigan University became aware on Sunday, April 12, 2015 that a party took place the previous afternoon at an off-campus location on Hamilton Street,” the statement said. “It was reported that some of those in attendance at the party were EMU students dressed as Native Americans. It was further reported that the group had an altercation with a member of the community who, upon witnessing the students, expressed offense regarding their dress and behavior.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Natives Protest Hurons Logo and EMU Revives Hurons Logo.

April 16, 2015

Raven in Snow Crash

Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book)One of Time magazine's 100 all-time best English-language novels.

Only once in a great while does a writer come along who defies comparison—a writer so original he redefines the way we look at the world. Neal Stephenson is such a writer and Snow Crash is such a novel, weaving virtual reality, Sumerian myth, and just about everything in between with a cool, hip cybersensibility to bring us the gigathriller of the information age.

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.
Snow CrashSnow Crash is Neal Stephenson's third novel, published in 1992. Like many of Stephenson's other novels it covers history, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, religion, computer science, politics, cryptography, memetics and philosophy.

Condensed narrative

The protagonist is the aptly named Hiro Protagonist, whose business card reads "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world." When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise fifteen-year-old girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard Kourier (courier), and they decide to become partners in the intelligence business (selling data to the CIC, the for-profit organization that evolved from the CIA's merger with the Library of Congress).

The pair soon learn of a dangerous new drug called "Snow Crash" that is both a computer virus capable of infecting the machines of unwise hackers in the Metaverse and a crippling CNS virus in Reality. It is distributed by a network of Pentecostal churches via its infrastructure and belief system. As Hiro and Y.T. dig deeper (or are drawn in) they discover more about Snow Crash and its connection to ancient Sumerian culture, the fiber-optics monopolist L. Bob Rife, and his aircraft carrier of refugee boat people who speak in tongues. Also, both in the Metaverse and in Reality, they confront one of Rife's minions, an Aleut harpoon master named Raven whose motorcycle's sidecar packs a nuke wired to go off should Raven ever be killed. Raven has never forgiven the United States for the way they handled the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands (see Aleutian Islands Campaign in World War II) or for the nuclear testing on Amchitka.
Comment:  Raven is tall, dark, and handsome, of course, with long black hair. Although he's smart and well-spoken, he's a bit of a savage stereotype. He's motivated primarily by revenge, and he'll kill anyone who gets in his way.

Many Native characters have used the name Raven--like Eagle, Hawk, Wolf, and Bear--before. Marvel's mutant villain Harpoon used the whole "Alaska Native throwing harpoons" shtick six years earlier. It's not a great power; why not use automatic pistols instead?

Because a fanatical harpooner like Captain Ahab or Raven is a man outside civilization. He revels in hunting with primitive weapons, skewering his foes like meat on a stick. This barbaric preference suggests a basic lack of humanity.

As does his willing to incinerate millions of people for something done to his people generations ago. This is mass-murderer territory. Although the bomb never goes off, it demonstrates a Holocaust level of depravity.

In short, Raven is a sophisticated savage. He reminds me a little of John Rainbird, the relentless Native assassin in Stephen King's Firestarter. Both characters are more than two-dimensional cardboard but less than fully realized humans.

Overall, Snow Crash was entertaining, although it fizzled some at the end. If it were set 50 years in the future rather than in the 1992 era, I'd say it was a provocative take on what's coming. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.