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Zuckerberg vs. Crazy Horse: Facebook Mustn't Marginalize Indians' Names

Sometimes it is hard to believe we still have to deal with racist misanthropic garbage that has been heaped on Natives since first contact. In some areas we have come so far, from having a Native as a U.S. senator (the Honorable Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne) to seeing an American Indian being sent into space (John Harrington, Choctaw). Ironically Senator Nighthorse Campbell better watch his back—his enemies might decide to contact his internet content providers and turn him in as having a fake name on websites.

Apparently the maestros behind the scenes of your favorite online guilty pleasure-social media experience known as FaceBook (FB) think that Native Americans could not possibly have such absurd surnames as Nighthorse, ManKiller or Crazy Horse. Take the case of Ms. Deloria Many Grey Horses. Over the past few weeks FaceBook has suspended Ms. Many Grey Horses’s account for using a “fake name.”

RELATED: I Am Not Your Mascot, Biloxi!

Seems that Ms. Many Grey Horses had the audacity to start an online petition, requesting that the high school stop using the “Indian” as their mascot. Supporters of the misappropriated name and Native image took the low road and decided to undermine the “rabble rouser,” in some eyes but I prefer to call her an activist speaking up for the right thing-but that’s just me. Biloxi High supporters reported Ms. Many Grey Horses’s to FB as having as having a phony name associated with her account. FB decided that was beyond the pale and suspended her account. After much back and forth, with sharing of personal documents verifying her ID being required, she has finally been reinstated.

This issue did not go by without an outcry from the Native community. There was quickly a show support for Ms. Many Grey Horses. Her cousin organized an event where people were requested to change their FB names to Zuckerberg in honor of the co-creator of the arguably webs most popular site. I decided to drink the kool aid and changed my profile to indicate my new identity and kinship to the FB founder. I got to see for a brief time what was in his white knapsack—as I had people saying if I was now a Zuckerberg I could afford to buy them this or that.

The online protest made a bit of a media splash and I think the people behind the curtain at FB must now take a look at their policy towards names. Last year they even made an accommodation for Drag Queens after they protested similar problems regarding their FB identifying name.

We make up less than one percent of the total U.S. populations but we have feelings too and the right to our dignity and traditional names as does every Washington, Cortez or Zuckerberg.

Andre Cramblit is a Karuk Tribal Member from the Klamath and Salmon rivers in northwest California. He is the Operations Director of the Northern California Indian Development Council and lives with his wife Wendy and son Kyle in Arcata, California.