Target: Peter Haugan, President of the All Native Basketball Tournament Board
Goal: Apologize to Josiah for excluding him from the All Native Basketball Tournament and change rules of exclusion.
A black athlete, adopted into the First Nations Heiltsuk community, was denied admittance into an All Native Basketball Tournament based on his lack of “indigenous bloodlines.” Although he was born in Haiti, Josiah was adopted into a Heiltsuk family as an infant and subsequently raised in a First Nations community. This is the only life he knows and it is the culture he identifies with.
To bar him from playing in an All Native event communicates that he is not “native enough” and reinforces the idea that what makes one native is their blood quantum, which is problematic for many reasons. First of all, the idea of blood quantum is that of colonial legislation and emphasizes the rules of a system enforced by the oppressor. Secondly, people like Josiah who were brought up in a First Nations culture since birth, are just as native as the other kids in their generation. Finally, being native isn’t what you look like or where you were born, as some full-blood natives living on reservations are happy to assimilate and some mixed-blood natives raised in the mainstream culture reject the life they know, in order to return to their ancestral culture.
By excluding a member of their community based on such arbitrary criterion is to not only divide the community but also shatter this young man’s sense of belonging and identity. To reject him is to tell him that no matter what he does, he will never be good enough, even though this culture is all he knows. His parents didn’t adopt him into their family and tribe so that he could later be discriminated against.
It was wrong to bar admittance to Josiah simply based on lack of blood quantum and by using such a tool, the community is actually reinforcing colonial legislation and accomplishing the oppressor’s goals. Sign this petition to urge the president of the event to apologize to Josiah for excluding him and to consider changing the discriminatory rules that supported the decision.
Dear President Haugen,
I am writing this letter to you in a state of extreme disappointment and frustration. Recently, you approved the decision to exclude Josiah Wilson from the All Native Basketball Tournament, which is blatant racial discrimination.
Although Josiah was raised in a First Nations home and community from infancy until this point, you found it acceptable to disallow him to play alongside his fellow cousins, neighbors, and friends in this particular tournament. The reason stated was birthplace and adoptive status, as if that has anything to do with being native. Josiah is arguably just as native as any of the other kids that you allowed into the tournament.
You should be aware that using blood quantum as a criterion for membership or participation is a colonial tool that has been used to divide native community members and whittle the indigenous race down to nothing. By excluding a member of your community based on these trivial requirements is to not only divide the community but also destroy this young man’s sense of belonging and identity. It is to strip his parents of all the years they spent teaching him that he is no different than his peers or family.
To reject him is to tell him that no matter what he does, he will never be good enough as a black native, even though this culture constitutes his identity. It is completely wrong to bar admittance to Josiah simply based on lack of blood quantum and by using such a tool, you are simply enforcing colonial legislation and achieving the oppressor’s original goals.
Please apologize to Josiah Wilson for banning him from the tournament, and reconsider the enforcement of ancient and divisive tools of oppression.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kerelin Molina