BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Indians came under some recent scrutiny as a national petition was started to change the mascot. Although this petition has just recently surfaced, you wouldn't know it judging by the school spirit being celebrated at Saturday's Indian Nation 5K and one mile fun run downtown.
The Biloxi Indian Spirit could be felt throughout downtown as runners, walkers, and watchers gathered for a day of fun. Throughout the 5k and one mile fun run, there were plenty of cheers, and plenty of conversation. And one thing was for sure, according to these supporters, Biloxi's mascot wasn't going anywhere.
"The Biloxi Indians are part of the culture here and there's no disrespect whatsoever," said Hoyt Warren from Auburn.
Looking at the situation from an outsider's perspective, he didn't see anything wrong with what some are calling offensive.
"I feel proud that they recognize the Native Americans and the contributions that have been made," he said.
A lot of the heat from those calling for change was centered on the band and their use of headdresses. Being in the band, Deterrian Jones sees the Indian as a major part of the school and city's history.
"We're celebrating them with our uniforms," said Jones.
He's asking those calling for an end to the Biloxi Indian to do some research.
"I don't think they really know our background or our history, so they can't really say anything to us," said Jones.
Sixth grader Rebecca Woodward thinks the same way.
"If they knew what it meant, I feel like it would be better," she said.
According to Woodward, the headdress and Native American-inspired attire and decorations all point to leadership. But, she said there's a lot that she and her classmates would like to learn about the mascot and the history behind it.
"I think we should just have one class per week saying what it means," said Woodward.
This year's 5K and one mile fun run saw more than double the attendance of last year. Everyone we asked said they don't see the mascot changing anytime soon.