I am an enrolled citizen of the Confederated Tribes Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw. Ever since my daughter was very young, we visit the 4th of July parade. In the past it has always been a fun experience. This year I was horrified and disappointed to see an appalling entry into the parade, sponsored by Sonoma Hills Retirement Center, honoring Father Jose Altimira. Several of the individuals in the group were dressed as “Indians” – in a manner no actual Indian would ever, ever dress: ugly headdresses made up of garishly died chicken feathers, faux buckskin outfits, and to top it all off a young woman in a wig and a faux buckskin dress. This insults not only the local Indians who suffered and died at the Mission (Coast Miwok, Pomo and Patin) and their descendants, but also insults all indigenous people.
We don’t appreciate seeing out cultures mocked in such a way, nor the history of genocide portrayed in such a lighthearted manner. The entry also violated the Sonoma Community Center’s rules for parade entries – specifically prohibited are “…banner, costumes or languages with slurs (racial, sexual, religious, etc). The parody “Indian” costumes clearly violated that rule. I hope in future the parade organizers make it clearer to participants such costumes are inappropriate.
Patricia Phillips, Sonoma