Gina Sixkiller: Just say no to dehumanization of our peoples

Activist Winona LaDuke speaks at a rally against racist mascots in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 2, 2014. Photo from Simon Moya-Smith / Facebook

Gina Sixkiller explains why she opposes racist depictions of Native people:
I am a woman of mixed races. I grew up being called a squaw, half-breed, white, redskin and other names—none meant in a good way. I grew up wondering exactly where I fit in. Then I went to an all-Indian technical school. There I was defined by the kind of person I was, not by what race I was.

I now am a mother first and foremost. A mother wading through a myriad of stereotypical imagery and racism while trying to teach my son to grow up to be a good person. I take my son to pow wows, family gatherings and traditional ceremonies so he can learn where he comes from and where he can go in the future. I have relatives that are full blood as much as I have relatives that are white and relatives that are mixed race like me.

When confronted with mascots like the Washington Redskins or films that depict Native Americans in an inaccurate, stereotypical way I have to question how this will affect my child. I want him to be proud of all of who he is. I want him to respect himself, others and to respect women.

When I see the "redskins" mascot I am offended because I know that in the future when someone finds out my son is Native American he will then be greeted with the "woowoowoo war whoop" that I was. He will be asked if he's a "dot-Indian" or a "feather-Indian". He will be told "I thought you guys were extinct" and asked if he lives in a teepee. Being light skinned like me he will hear the racial slurs against indigenous people because the ones speaking won't think he is being insulted.

Get the Story:
Gina Sixkiller: Just Say It's Not OK to Sexualize, Marginalize, Dehumanzie (Indian Country Today 5/17)

Join the Conversation