- Biloxi Highschool Marching BandMr. Arthur McMillan
Please change your Band uniforms and Mascot #notyourmascot
INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY- "In Washington, DC, the National Cherry Blossom Festival concluded on Saturday with a parade that featured dozens of headdresses. The wearers weren't hipsters, or new-age hucksters, or supermodels -- they were high school students from Mississippi. The Biloxi High School marching band, which supports the school's teams, the Biloxi Indians, took part in the parade wearing their typical uniform, which includes a feather headdress.
It's not one mascot wearing a feather headdress, or a drum major or majorettes in the headdresses. It's every member of the band. You can see some less-than-sharp photos of the parade on the Biloxi High School Band and Boosters Facebook page, but there are better ones on the Biloxi Public Schools page, which is where we found the images below.
It's one thing for adults going to a music festival to wear headdresses. Let's face it, there are jerks in this world who aren't going to respect other people or their cultural traditions. But this is engrained disrespect. This is a uniform that everyone in the band must wear. If you want to play the trumpet and represent your school, you have to wear an item that is sacred in many Native cultures. If you want to support your team -- the Indians remember -- with your musical talents, you have to dress in a way that upsets many real-world Indians. Are these teenagers aware that they're trivializing something that many American Indians hold dear? Are Biloxi High School administrators aware that many Native Americans will be deeply offended by the manner in which they show their school pride?
We'd like to believe that people are born respecting each other, and that cultural insensitivity (and more extreme forms of prejudice and bigotry) are learned behaviors. Teenagers are fertile minds, they're learning behaviors every day. What are these boys and girls being taught about respect for Native people? "
- Mr. Arthur McMillan
Biloxi Highschool Marching Band
I wanted to let you know that I feel your choices as an institution of learning, to keep using "Indians" as a mascot, is misguided and concerning. However, I find your uniforms for the band, that recently performed in the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade outright offensive and disgusting.
The appropriation and misuse of headdresses is a topic that has been widely discussed in the media and I'm sure that some one in the administration has heard the arguments surrounding them. I find it irresponsible that you are creating a culture for young people that makes this kind of behavior acceptable and unquestioned. You are contributing to the continued racism that plagues our society.
I am writing this message, because the high school and school district are not answering the phones. I am sure that you've received a wave of calls. I hope that as an educational institution you will see how you are negatively contributing to our society and continuing a legacy of racism. I hope that you change your mascot. I hope you apologize. And, I hope that you realize that this is a big deal.
Concerned Community Members
(Letter Prepared by: Phenocia Bauerle)
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