Homecoming float draws attention to overlooked racism

Homecoming float draws attention to overlooked racism

Braden Mowdy, Opinion Editor

It was homecoming at Fort Gibson High School located in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. On September 22, the Fort Gibson Tigers were going to play the Stilwell Indians at the football game, and like many schools, they had a homecoming parade. As innocent as a parade sounds, a group of students abused the situation and decided to dress up as “Native Americans,” stand in a cage on a float that said “cage the indians” and yell stereotypical Native war cries. Many people may see this as harmless high school school spirit, for their school was playing the Stilwell Indians, but it is also seen by many as derogatory and racist.

Racism is often overlooked when it comes to indigenous cultures. People will dress up as the stereotypical plains native. These costumes are racist because they will sexualize the culture or project natives as savages. European colonization decimated indigenous populations. Therefore, today’s population of indigenous peoples is slim, making them more susceptible to everyday racism. But, the actions of these students took it even further. Though it may not have been their intent, their floats message was clear: Native American culture is not to be respected.

For instance, the fact that Stilwell even has the Indians as its mascot is racist and dehumanizing. Some may argue that it is not racist because there are mascots such as the Vikings or 49’ers, but those mascots are historical figures and Native people are not a thing of the past. They are still here and still victims to a racist society.

When I saw the pictures of the float, it was kind of shocking. I grew up around native culture and it is something I’ve always respected and admired. So when I saw the post about the float, I was instantly outraged. I want incidents such as this to help our communities become more conscious of their decisions and how they can reflect on other groups of people. I think that is an easily attainable goal that we should all strive for. But to do that, people need to be aware of the issue, and many are not.