By Therese Apel
“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.
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 Rogers
"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.