San Francisco, CA– On June 24, 2014 at the San Francisco Giants game vs. San Diego Padres “Native American Heritage Night,” two Native American fans in attendance at the game, Kimball Bighorse and April Negrette, were forcefully detained and removed from the game for confronting another fan wearing a faux costume headdress (this attendee) had purchased online. Ms. Negrette engaged in heartfelt dialogue with this fan to express that misappropriation of headdress, sacred regalia, and Native cultural items is wrong, harmful, and absolutely unacceptable.
The person wearing the fake war bonnet was asked to remove it from his head. Mr. Bighorse and Ms. Negrette were then approached by security and asked to hand over their tickets. All orders were complied with. The person/people wearing the mocked headdress were never asked to leave, despite their harmful and degrading behaviors. Unfortunately, both Ms. Negrette and Mr. Bighorse were forcefully handcuffed by the San Francisco Police Department and taken to the ground, even after they agreed, and were in the process of, leaving the game.
Mr. Bighorse was also accused of being drunk, which he was not. He was detained and held face-down on the ground. Testimony from Kimball Bighorse public statement:
“They told me to spread my legs widely and repeatedly went through my pockets and pants and shirt and pushed down on the handcuffs, which were quite tight and put considerable pressure on my shoulders and back. They then detained me in the paddywagon, handcuffed for the rest of the game.”-Bighorse said. “They did draw a bit of blood, and I have some scrapes from the cement on my knuckles, and I have photos of the marks left by the handcuffs, that my friend will be sending me.”
Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry (EONM), a group of Native American parents and allies, is extremely saddened by this event. We are surprised that Native American people would be treated this way on ‘Native American Heritage Night’, while trying to confront the very pervasive problem of cultural misappropriation by non-Natives. While we can appreciate that the team held an event to bring Native American peoples and culture to the forefront, and that crowd control is protocol, there is a grave deficit of knowledge about Native cultures and people that became painfully evident at the game. Two Native American attendees were physically harmed during this unnecessary and preventable incident. It is our feeling that Native Americans should be able to not only attend sporting events free of harmful cultural misappropriation, but also be able to speak out about the desecration of Native cultures, people, and items. We feel that Mr. Bighorse and Ms. Negrette, were punished for trying to educate about the harms of Native Mascotry. They should not have been asked to leave the game, detained, and forcefully handcuffed by non-discerning security and police that did not care to know nor ask for the full story.
It is our hope that the Giants organization and its security detail, as well as SFPD, will become educated about the harms of offensive Native Mascotry and harmful cultural misappropriation. Ignoring Native peoples’ concerns is indicative of the fact that Native people are treated as relics of the past, non-existent, and we hope the aforementioned parties will treat cultural misappropriation as hate speech, as that is the way it feels to have sacred items mocked.