Jaylen Fryberg Is Not Your Indian Savage

NOTE: This wasn’t an easy post to write. There are layers and layers of oppression here, and I’ve chosen the one I’m most familiar with: How the misrepresentation and misappropriation of Native culture hurts our youth. I’m not condoning or excusing the violence perpetrated by Jaylen, but I also refuse to condemn him as the sole person responsible here. I see a beautiful boy who loved his culture, loved his parents, and loved his peers. And I also see a kid who was hurting in so many ways, a kid society failed miserably, and who, in turn, failed the people he loved in the most devastating way possible. We can do better. Prayers for all the families involved.

It didn’t take long for news outlets to turn real-life tragedy into some spaghetti western hopped up on Shakespeare Friday.

Jaylen Fryberg, a 14-year-old freshman at Marysville-Pilchuch High School in Washington state, shot and injured four students and killed a girl and himself Friday during lunch.

Fryberg was Native American, and a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes active in his people’s culture.

Images of Jaylen used in the media move from his normal teenage wear (you know, the clothes that render him a “thug”), to him in his traditional regalia, to him with the weapons he used to hunt and fish. These aren’t just random photos news outlets are exploiting from the social media accounts of an underage kid (problematic in and of itself). They are purposeful and part of a long history of system racism pervasive in mass media.

Widely used images depicting Jaylen Fryberg.
Widely used images depicting Jaylen Fryberg.

Like most stories involving a person of color committing a crime, the news zeroes in on the ethnicity and culture as a sort of explanation for actions. Brown people do bad things! is the message. When white folks commit crimes, they’re painted as mentally disturbed loners, the connotation being they aren’t responsible for their actions. Rarely is the white perpetrator’s religion (Christian-based upbringing) or heritage (Norwegian? English? German? Icelandic?) brought up, because the default is white, no explanation needed.

But put a gun in the hands of a kid of color, and all of a sudden he was being primed to kill since birth, part of a community that relished death and gave rifles as birthday presents.

If you’ve spent any time among Natives in their own communities, you realize quickly that a Native kid living among his people will invariably grow up learning how to feed his family (whether that’s hunting or farming or gathering). This is normal in our Native societies and an important way we pass down cultural teachings.

But that explanation doesn’t rate as news precisely because it doesn’t fit into the narrative of Natives the Western world is primed to accept. The image associated with Native men is that of an aggressive warrior or savage. Redskin. Chief. Indian. Brave. Seminole. Fighting Sioux.

We are mad. We are bloodthirsty. We will stop at nothing to win. We’re told these images of us used by sports teams are honorific. Be proud, we’re told. We’re honoring the only part of you we can accept: The way you looked centuries ago when we defeated you. But, hey, your team wins and gets millions in advertising so let’s just ignore the unrestrained racism on your helmets.

For those of us who have spent years studying the effects of mascots and Native representation in mass media, it’s no coincidence that Jaylen turned to violence when his own football team was the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks, a nickname that came under fire several times over the past couple of decades as school boards across the country became hip to the fact Native-associated mascots are damaging in ways that utterly dehumanize and erase Native youth identities.

While the mascot has won continuous approval from many Tulalip tribal people over the years (although some tribal leaders distanced themselves from Native mascots in 2013), the school does ban face paint and Native regalia from sporting events. Still, various reports reference fans doing the “tomahawk chop” at games.

Logo from the Marysville Pilchuck Tomahawk Booster Club http://www.mpboosters.com.
Logo from the Marysville Pilchuck Tomahawk Booster Club http://www.mpboosters.com.
The helmet featured a spear and feather. Photo from http://www.northwesteliteindex.com/2014/08/20/2014-team-preview-marysville-pilchuck-tomahawks/
The helmet featured a spear and feather. Photo from http://www.northwesteliteindex.com/2014/08/20/2014-team-preview-marysville-pilchuck-tomahawks/

Tomahawks. Spears. Warbonnets. People say, Oh, these aren’t Indian mascots because they’re just objects. Objects can’t be racist. Really? Because like associating Blacks with eating watermelons and fried chicken has blatantly racist undertones, so too do these objects undeniably link Native Americans with imagery rooted in violence, aggression, and stereotype.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you know that study, after study, after study proves mascots dehumanize Native Americans, and are particularly detrimental to Native youth.

According to a 2005 statement from the American Psychological Association: “The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in schools and university athletic programs is particularly troubling because schools are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and too often, insulting images of American Indians. These negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students.

I wrote the words below this summer and they are especially poignant now:

The fact of the matter is these words and images – mascots and logos and names like those found on the Washington NFL team – are *harmful.* Like Big Tobacco lobbyists, mascot/name supporters like to say there is no direct link between the Redskins and the vast, plague-like troubles Natives face on a daily basis. “Oh, come on,” they say. “It’s *just* football. The kid who killed himself in Eagle Butte last week didn’t do it because he saw a Redskins football game.”

But like the tar, the arsenic, and the other 4,000-some chemicals wrapped nicely in kid-friendly cigarette packaging, the poison inherent in mascots and racist team names takes root over time. One or two puffs on any given Sunday and you’ll live. But years of exposure to the smoke of systemic, capitalized racism will fester, and, like all cancers, will eventually kill – if not the body, then for sure the spirit.

These aren’t words I write or repost lightly. And nothing – nothing – excuses murder. But a path like the one Jaylen took was written long ago (long before I wrote anything).

One of the most foremost and respected experts on the Indian mascot debate is Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, also a citizen of the Tulalip Tribes. I have no idea if Dr. Fryberg and Jaylen were related (update: related and my sincere condolences). That’s not the point. But I do find it interesting that Jaylen was part of a culture that fought against racism and stereotypes, who went to a school featuring a racist mascot, and who witnesses say was recently dealing with racist comments from peers.

Again: Nothing justifies Jaylen’s actions with the gun, but most of us who have experienced racism can attest to its power in bringing out feelings of worthlessness, anger, frustration, and withdrawl. And, yes, this is despite being what witnesses describe as a “happy” and “popular” kid. Being crowned homecoming prince doesn’t negate centuries of oppression.

Being surrounded by messages of violence, being a part of a society that devalues your culture and heritage (if it recognizes it at all), damages you, especially if you’re a kid. Add that to being an emotionally volatile teenager in the throes of what appears to be a tragic romantic breakup, and you’ve got some intense Shakespearian feelings to contend with that shouldn’t be dismissed easily.

Jaylen was a murderer, but he was also inarguably a victim of a society that surrounds its Native youth in images of savagery and misogyny, a society that trivializes Native culture with mascots and fashion and crap holidays and hyper-sexualized costumes that render us invisible. He was in pain, as many of our Native youth are, a fact that is obvious to anyone reading his social media posts or who have worked with Native youth, as I have for many years.

Vilify Jaylen’s actions, but not Jaylen. Not his culture. Doing so will invariably hurt countless other Native kids watching this horrifying event disintegrate into a racial shitstorm on social media:

One of many racist tweets churned out by the trolls after the story broke.
One of many racist tweets churned out by the trolls after the story broke.
Here's another that stung. Though I understand the anger and wholeheartedly agree their are stark and disturbing differences between media play for this incident compared to how the media covers Black crime, it upsets and angers me that even in death the kid's culture is being erased. Jaylen was NOT white, and that makes all the difference.
Here’s another that stung. Though I understand the anger and wholeheartedly agree there are stark and disturbing differences between media play for this incident compared to how the media covers Black crime, it upsets and angers me that even in death the kid’s culture is being erased. Jaylen was NOT white, and that makes all the difference.

“The thing is, is I don’t always just go out an shoot something. It’s not my favorite part about hunting. My favorite part about it is about just being in the woods. Just me my dad an my brother. An even if I’m sitting in the passenger seat sleeping it doesn’t matter. I like to be in the woods an that’s it.”

– Jaylen Fryberg, from Tangled Portrait of a Student Emerges in Washington Shooting

99 thoughts on “Jaylen Fryberg Is Not Your Indian Savage

  1. I knew jaylen, and despite all of your “research” this was not a crime born from racism. Natives are 100% equals at our school, generally being very well liked, as jaylen was. This crime was not the result of bullying as you seem to think. Now, nobody but his family who may or may not have read a suicide note that he may have left knows for sure, but from every knowledgable source I have heard ANYTHING from, this was completely the result of a severe depression from relationship problems. I know that your post was in good taste and had no bad intentions, however I think you are over looking possible serious mental disorders this child may have had and are instead placing partial blame on things such as school mascots. Ask any native person in OUR community and you will see clearly that natives were extremely well respected in our city and one horrible decision/incident does not reflect on us as a whole.

    1. Student: I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers to you, your family and community.

      Nothing about my commentary was in any way related to who Jaylen was as a person, positive or negative. Obviously, I don’t know him. Will never know him. His motives were his own and unknowable, as they are for all individuals.

      That said, I am constantly looking at the intersections of race and society, especially as those issues relate to Indian Country, because I work with Native youth and understand the struggles they face, even if they might not know some of the *systemic* causes themselves. If you are willing to learn more, please check out the links toward the end of my piece. This “research” is scientific, nonpartisan, and proved over and over again. In this scenario, systemic racism IS mascots, IS the media’s portrayal of Jaylen, as a teen, as an outdoorsman, and as a tribal citizen. We must address these issues and have these conversations if we want things to get better. As a mother, this is of the utmost importance to me.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

      1. I’d normally trash a comment like this, because it adds nothing to the conversation. But since you’re the millionth person to say this to me in the last two days (and since you didn’t call me a derogatory word – thanks), I’m putting it up to say it is indeed a Native issue. You are part of the problem in erasing Native identity with comments like this. Do better, Anna, which for people like you means shutting up and listening to the many marginalized voices trying to tell you how to make things incrementally better.

      2. thank you and i would never think of calling you a derogatory name.. I respect opinions of others … so tell me how to make it better! and tell me clearly how this is a “Native Issue”. Did you know Jaylen, his family, his cousins, his school, his tribe, his community, his county.. and what we have been through this year? as difficult as these words are to type .. you are right.. Jaylen was a murder.. but it wasnt because he went to a school and was a Tomhawk.. it wasnt because he was a Native tribal member who lost his identity… it was because he was a 14 year old who lost his way .. who felt pain of those thing 14 year olds go thru .. was it right to use those pictures we see in the media to depict who Jay was.. NO .. however some of those pictures could depict a large percentage of the kids in Snohomish county. I dont have the answers.. i wish .. so I will shut up an listen to the marginalized voices trying to tell you how to make things incrementally better.. please enlighten me

      3. Thanks, Anna. I appreciate the dialogue. I stand by my comment that you need to take a step back and let Native people process this. It is not our job to explain 500 years of oppression to you. Consider reading through this whole blog (not just the post!), plus the blogs and books of people like Adrienne Keene of Native Appropriations, or Dr. Fryberg, whom I mention in this post. THERE IS SO MUCH INFORMATION OUT THERE PEOPLE ARE IGNORING!! I mean, Google it, Anna! Educate yourself! For me, this piece is MY grief as a Native mother and as a scholar who has studied this issue of representation for years. I mean – how many people have to explain grief??? I’m nobody. I write this blog in my limited spare time. Writing is how I process the bullshit of the world. I post these thoughts publicly to try and better myself. That often happens with dialogue, but not this dialogue. But I’ll humor you: This is a Native issue because – wait for it – JAYLEN WAS NATIVE! His story was blasted throughout the globe, his image as a Native person judged harshly and unfairly by outsiders who will NEVER understand what it means to be indigenous. Because in Jaylen I see how the image of my children. I see myself as a troubled youth with a gun in my hand at age 17 (true story). Because these are *systemic* issues we’re talking about, and since white people ARE the system, it’s very hard for white people to see and hear any of what we’re showing and telling you. Did he lose his way? I don’t know – I’m not a counselor, but it sure as heck looks like it. Was he well liked? I don’t know – but, I mean, he was crowned homecoming king and no one popular or good looking EVER does anything bad, right??? Was race a factor? YES! Because he was NOT white, because he was dealing with RACIST comments from peers, because his school mascot shoves RACIST Native imagery down students’ throats DAILY, because he dressed in traditional regalia that every news outlet made sure we ALL saw, because lots of Native youth hunt with rifles and OMG he took a picture with one, because because because… You aren’t the only one who has asked for an explanation Anna. You won’t be the last. My life right now is a lesson in futility, because no one is listening. You and others like you want me to explain my piece as if I knew anything about Jaylen the individual. No one but Jaylen knew who that person was. Not his parents. Not the friends he killed. And certainly not the people who take a look at his Twitter and think they know everything there is to know. My piece is on systemic racism. The issues that surround us like air every goddamn day. The racist Halloween costumes flooding stores right now. The football games on TV. The Hollywood films and TV shows. The fashion runways. Columbus Day. Thanksgiving. Missing indigenous people no one cares about (check #MMIW). I mean how can you all be so blind?! But that’s my anger and frustration talking – because RACISM impacts my daily life as an indigenous person!!!! I am not a lost teenager and have learned ways to cope, including relying on my spirituality and culture, so I’m not going to grab a gun to solve my problems. But racism gives me a lot of problems. Problems – issues – white people will NEVER experience unless it somehow impacts them personally (not “it happened in my community” but “it happened to ME”). And you will never truly know these systemic racist issues if you are white, because privilege. Because power.

      4. thank you.. I will take your advice and educate, perhaps because I live here and at the moment I am impacted I am not seeing the picture you are creating. As someone who plans on having children in the future I want to be a strong mother and teacher to my children. I want them to know of struggles and oppression and how it has impacted our ancestors .. so they can be strong citizens of their tribe and community and for themselves. This event has happened to me and my community, however at the moment I feel blind, sad and in need of discovery. I start my education tonight

      5. I’m not sure why u wrote this to began with when you don’t know him or the FACTS about what really happened or why it happened . You make it seem like a race thing but no you are sooooo far from the truth .

      6. My 15yr old attends Marysville-philchuck and yes this really rocked my world. Yes I’m sure the race and color card plays into this, but peer pressure and home life play a huge roll in the big picture here. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this and the family’s who stuffed loss. No parent should have to bury there child at such a young age. My prayers and thoughts always.

    2. Student: that is your opinion. My brother is also a student there and he’s told us all of the racism and ignorance he’s encountered there. This article is simply pointing out how society devalues and dehumanizes Native people. I do however agree that there’s more under the surface.

    3. Unless you are Native you cannot understand the racism towards us and how degrading it is. I live in the Dakotas where we are called PRAIRIE NIGGERS. Believe it PRAIRIE NIGGERS. Now if a white person called a group of Africian Americans NIGGER how do think they would react. Do you think they would swallow hard and say no offense taken? I think not. Yet we have to hear that on a daily basis. When growing up whitey (oh I am sorry is that offensive) had a sign at their swimming pool NO INDIANS AND DOGS ARE ALLOWED. But we were not allowed to voice our concerns or from PRAIRIE NIGGERs we went to SAVAGES. We would swallow hard and we had to say no offense or suffer the consequences. Words hurt. Words hurt. Words hurt.

      1. I understand what you mean although I am white I grew up on the Nez Perce reservation in a predominantly native school where I was the minority most of my native friends started off not liking me and telling me to go away soyapo (meant to be a derogitory term for white person in the Nez Perce language) or having parents say they don’t want their child playing with that white kid.
        as I grew up their voices changed and I was eventually accepted first by the kids in my class and school and then by their parents.
        I have gone to POWWOWs and listened to drum groups I’ve seen how most natives are treated in my area now I know it is different in each place on how people are treated.

    4. Exactly. It is very sad that anybody would use this tragedy as a platform for their own agenda; people close to this situation know that this had zero to do with mascots or any other political talking points. We’ve got to be careful and as much as we ask for people to respect us, we’ve also got to respect our own people’s privacy by not speculating.

      1. My comment got cut off. In short, I encourage caution. You are a talented writer, and I’m thankful that I saw this piece because it made me look at your other pieces. Thank you. But we have to be careful not to do the same thing that the majority has done with people of color for centuries–bend facts conveniently to fit the narrative that they want to push about us. These facts just don’t work here.

      2. Just to be clear: I don’t get paid to blog, as some folks do. I obviously don’t do it for the popularity, as the majority of these comments can attest! I mourn and process tragedy differently than others (#concept) – by writing about what I know. I was 17 with a gun in my hand once. My Lakota foundations – prayer, inipi, sundance, my two spirit identity – helped me overcome severe depression. But more than that – adults, mentors, family, pulled me out, college professors studying media representations on race and gender helped me channel my feelings into something tangible that could help others. Spending 10 years as a professional journalist honed my ability to reach people through words and research. I am not here for you to tell me how I can and can’t process this news. I value you’re writing on mascots, Gyasi, but I’m struggling not to feel angered that you, of all people, are telling me to be quiet about this. And, no. You aren’t the only Native person to tell me I’m wrong (many people I admire have been very angry about this piece, but none have jumped to accusing me of exploitation, as you do, and that’s not cool, man). But really. Jaylen’s story – his image – went GLOBAL. If we don’t talk about these systemic racial issues as they rear their ugly, murderous heads, who will? Our youth need us to talk about this.

      3. I never told you to be quiet; I’m not sure where you got that from. Please, PLEASE continue writing–we desperately need your voice. 🙂 But…let the facts develop. I encouraged caution and privacy–that’s not silence. Simply as a factual matter, this isn’t what you’re making it, I promise you–that’s just factual and not a matter of mourning style or argument. There are families that are actually grieving this, in real time, right now and they really don’t need the speculating and hypothesizing that is taking prayer and energy away from the where it’s needed–healing (physical and spiritual).

    5. I don’t read this blog entry as playing the race card, or as a specific commentary on the shooter. I see it as an honest reaction to the portrayal of the shooter in the media. There was a noticeable shift in coverage when it was learned the shooter and the victims were not white. The visual depictions of the shooter as thug, to ‘wild Indian’, to disturbed Native with a rifle were distressing. These depictions played into every negative stereotype about Natives that exists. Surely there were other images that portrayed him in a less stereotypical manner. Those were edited out. Facebook posts within the greater white community were also filled with negative stereotypes. Even in the posts of people who should know better. These stereotypes always referred back an imagined historic and/or skid road Native. Contemporary Natives are not recognized. It is as if they do not exist. To have it then assumed that the shooter was white is a double whammy. A dear friend and mentor told me that as a child in Marysville she was called a ‘dirty native’. When she was sent to the boarding school she was called a ‘white girl’. This had a profound effect on her search for identity as a child, adolescent, and as an adult. Being rendered invisible is cruel fate. As for the power of mascots? Try calling your sports team ‘The Crucifixes’.

      1. Wow. Thank you for this comment. The perspective, especially from your friend, is much appreciated. And you’re right: If you’re looking for a violent weapon to represent your school, a crucifix would strike fear in many hearts.

    6. Racism was one of the reasons in the suicide message. You are obviously a white person that doesn’t realize some of your peers are racists.

    7. Student: Thank you for posting this. I’m local to this area too, and agree absolutely that high jacking this tragedy in the name of racism is 100% wrong. The family is well known around here and he was a popular, well liked kid. Clearly he had issues – self absorption and an inability to deal with problems obviously among them, but he wasn’t a victim of racism. It makes me angry to read that, especially in light of how the community has rallied to his family and the tribe.

      TO THE ORIGINAL POST: The Tulalip Tribe is very wealthy, controls a lot of land in this area and has a lot of political clout. They are NOT discriminated against and in fact, the Tribe encourages use of things like “Tomahawks” for the high school teams because it keeps the history and pride of the local native Americans at the forefront. I cannot speak about any other tribe, but I can unreservedly say the Tulalip Indians are well regarded and quite powerful in this area. The mere fact of the team being called the Tomahawks does not equal racism, period – except to those who look for racism in every corner. This is a tragedy of a BOY who clearly had some issues quite aside and unrelated to his Indian heritage. Lastly, many, many people hunt around here so no one thinks twice about the hunting pictures, and as for the national media using those photos, well, they are limited to using the ones available to them on Facebook because the family has not released others. It so happens Jaylen was proud of his heritage and his hunting and those are the ones he posted. I understand you wanting to connect your beliefs to this situation and it is natural, if one is so inclined, to see whatever condition (in this case, racism against native Americans ) one looks for if they have preconceived notion, but in this case, racism has NOTHING whatsoever to do with what happened, and trying to call it such diminishes the tragedy and reduces Jaylen’s death to a political tool.

      1. I’ve faced plenty of racism in Marysville. I’m not even a Tulalip. Trust me when I say it is happening. Everywhere, everyday. Although race isn’t the only reason. It definitely had it’s part. I live in Marysville. My kids have all gone to MP. One of my kids sadly witnessed this tragedy and will carry this with her for the rest of her life. Racism IS alive and well.

    8. The best words I could thought ….Congrats, Im a minority, because Im hispanic, but for me I never took in count about Jayleen’s indians roots, Im only was so sad and dissapointed about his actions, there is not stigma bout this tragedy, is not the path that we have to follow, sorry for all the minorities, but I had seen hard trials also in white americans, we need to stop,playing this victim’s game. And we need to unite our efforts as community to keep our kid safe the most that we can. Thanks I loved your words really!

    9. A 21-year old U of Penn football co-captain, Owen Thomas, committed suicide. He was found to have had a trauma-induced brain disease. His mom said “Owen never did have a big concussion, so I hope there is some research into what happens in a developing young person with a lot of little jolts to the brain.”

      Early symptoms of CTE include memory impairment, emotional instability, erratic behavior, depression and problems with impulse control according to directors at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

      There’s the story of football player 17 year old Austin Trenum …

      There’s the story of football player 17 year old Julian Jones …

      Also an interesting 1986 study by Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis & Dr. Jonathan Pinkus.

      Some sense could come from this tragedy if a link could be found to brain damage in Jaylen’s case. Does anyone know why Jaylen tweeted that he was on his way to the hospital on June 19th? Had he been injured? It appears his behavior changed over the summer. Just keep asking questions.

    10. Thank you for sharing your heart on this. Depression will be the #1 cause of death in this country. Guns will facilitate that. We live in a War Culture. Our entire Middle Class depends on it for jobs. Depression, BiPolar, PTSD all will incline while our communities lie divided with resolve. You live by the sword, all life is connected, you die by it. Peace is the only state upon which the human sees the light.

  2. Well written but this article is dangerously assumptive. Police are still investigating his motive. All those he shot were not white, some were family. He was a “happy” teen that shot his friends and family… maybe race, the mascot, and all the other personal feelings you state in this article do not connect to him and this shooting but are irrelevant and far too suggestive. The media is definitely guilty of again sensationalizing this one, but I question if publishing this article before the facts are discovered and in direct link to motive is just as misleading.

    1. Thanks Lexy. This piece has nothing to do with motive – who can ever know that, even with a letter? – but the systemic racism surrounding all Native youth in America, and the images of Jayden that are now feeding into that.

      1. This is an interesting article and it gets me thinking about something I have been studying lately which is historical trauma. It seems that this is somewhat what you were talking about, and I wonder how much it could have possibly played into his actions.

      2. Wow I find this a hard pill to swallow. I really respect the Native American culture and never thought twice about anything racial too it. Do not generalize everyone nor place people in categories ..I really feel this was not a trigger here . Kids vote for Homecoming court..he obviously was very popular with alot of classmates. Don’t stir the pot let his family grieve and the authorities sort what happened out. My heart has bled all weekend over this tragedy. .someones beautiful babies are gone or struggling to live. I live in So Cal and I am a 61 year old “white” woman but I am first a human beibg as we all are..prayers for MPHS

  3. I didn’t even know he wasn’t white until I read this article. I thought he was white, leave it to a moron like this author to make sure to shame white people in this, especially if race ultimately had no say in the crime. This was a tragedy, and regardless of what people chose to do about gun laws, it will happen again. I think it comes to.the parents. If they had locked the gun in a safe, or even.with a trigger lock, it would have prevented the entire thing from happening, short of bringing another form of weapon.

  4. I wrestled with this tragedy myself. I am Native Canadian. Those within the Native community know that suicide is an all-too-real problem. The rates are much higher than in the surrounding non-Native communities.

    When my younger cousin committed suicide, I was heartbroken. We lived in distant communities, so had grown apart in our adult years. What memories I have of him were of a happy-go-lucky kid who loved BMX bikes, and guitar gods. I had no idea he was prone to severe depression. If he did have spells of depression as a child, he hid it well. His family never spoke of it. He had such a wonderful sense of humour, laughing all the time. …And then?… Somewhere between his happy-go-lucky childhood and his early 30’s, something changed. It was only at his funeral service that I learned how much he suffered from depression.

    Same thing with my Brother-In-Law. I knew he and my sister had been going through marital problems, but I had no idea that he was prone to bouts of depression. They got back together after a separation, and I thought that it was just a matter of working things out. Again, I think distance to some extent was a factor in my inability to see that there was a deeper-seated problem . But again, if there was a problem, they hid it well, because – again – the extent of his depression only came to light during the funeral.

    As I had noted, I wrestle with the tragedy in Tulalip-Marysville, because I wrestled with the loss of my loved ones. Bewilderment. Sadness. …But the overwhelming feeling was, and is, ANGER. I was angry with my loved ones for taking the coward’s way out. I was angry with them for leaving young familiies behind. My nieces have been left fatherless. Their wives – including my Baby Sister – have been left widows. They found a solution to their problems, as completely screwed-up as it was, but they also left their families in ruins. A completely unforgiveable act of selfishness.

    That anger is twofold with the Tulalip-Marysville shootings – as it was with the earlier Newtown and Columbine shootings (among others). That the perpetrators felt it necessary to end their lives in this manner makes me angry. That they felt it necessary to take others with them makes me even angrier.

  5. My son was the same age when he took his own life, with a car, not a gun but ….I often thought this might’ve been him if he lived. He was depressed most of his life. He wanted his culture so badly. I gave him what I could but not ALL I could. He broke off with his girl friend also so his heart must have hurt. He experienced racism, was considered violent in his school, but never in the community. He was loved by the girls. Who can figure it out? He was humorous. He just made a decision one day that ended his life. Jaylen must’ve wanted to hurt those that hurt him. We will never know. It wasn’t right, it was and is painful. I pray for his family, friends and community.

  6. He shot his family and friends – none of whom were white. I don’t think this had anything to do with racism or school mascots. Why must it always go to racism? I honestly believe if our Country and all of us with our different races and cultural backgrounds would stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and blaming others for issues this world would be a better place. How long is this going to go on, blaming other races for everything. It’s time to evolve as one Country together, where race isn’t a factor, realize the past happened, not excuse it, but it doesn’t have to take over the future, why can’t we all move ahead together? This has always been my hope.

    1. I think you’re missing the point of finding value in other’s cultures and not appropriating and stereotyping it. This is not about lack of uniting, but lack of acceptance. You say we should just forget about it and move on, but how can you ask people of color to just forget a part of who they are? We are our history it helps us to shape our identity and find a place in our world, and when that place is marketed as violent, aggressive images over and over again, then we see depression and separation. You want us to unite and fins peace? I agree, but not at the expense of who I am and who my people are. Race IS a factor and should be because we shouldn’t forget our individual cultures, we should celebrate them in the ways each culture wishes to be celebrated, i.e. NOT as a mascot.

      1. I am a white person so please forgive my ignorance to the issue of race. You mention that we are our history, and I am assuming you meant all of us as human beings regardless of race. So maybe us as white people don’t want to be categorized as the oppressor as you don’t want to be seen as “violent, aggressive, etc.” it seems like we are all in this race struggle so how do we rectify this as society? It is mentioned a lot about the mascot and media do you think if we change this, will the issues really go away? I believe we need to open up the dialog to speak with one another with out pride or ego in the picture because I feel we often walk into situation to speak with one another to fight out fight instead of listening and understanding which would open our eyes to the views of others. When I first read this article my first instinct when reading this article was frustration and anger. I feel like me being white has put me into this stereotype of being a blind oppressor. I can imagine that is somewhat what everyone feels at some point in their lives; being shoved into this stereotype that just doesn’t fit. Maybe we can realize that while white people do have the most unearned privileges we are also struggling with our identity as well which is forgotten because we are white.

    2. Depression is complicated. There are many factors that contribute to depression. When someone reaches their breaking point (which is what I believe happened here), all it takes is just “one more thing” on top of everything else to trigger something. There is no “one” cause or event that triggers depression and most of the time, what you think is the root cause of it really isn’t. (I know this from my own experiences with having major depression, an anxiety disorder and a panic disorder). While we don’t know for sure how this young man felt as far as his racial identity goes, the author of this blog’s theory is actually very plausible.

      I agree that we should move ahead and do it together. But until white people stop whining about the PC police and denying that they do have privilege whenever someone else calls them on appropriating other cultures or their own racism, we can’t move forward. To move forward requires empathy, which is in short supply these days.

      1. Terrific post that hits many important points. I appreciate Kathy’s comment too.

        While we’ll never know what was going on in Jaylen’s mind, and what brought him to a breakdown was probably a complex mix of things, I have a hard time thinking that racism wasn’t in the mix. Systemic racism is the hardest for us whites to understand, but it’s a form of violence, and it has real consequences. Yes, some people weather it better than others, but that’s no different than a family where two kids may grow up ok despite parental abuse or addiction and two have lifelong problems. Overall, what gets called Native “social problems” (domestic violence, suicide, etc.) sounds to me like a lot of people in pain.

        By the way, I struggle with major depression and have since my domestic violence-impacted childhood, so I appreciate any discussion that deals with the topic sensitively.

  7. Well written article. It honestly angered me when the media used those 3 pictures of Jaylen. Especially his ragalia and hunting picture. I instantly knew what stories were going to brew shortly afterward. What I right? You bet I was. You can see it in his smile that Jaylen was not a murder, savage, whatever , whatever. As the media puts it, he wasnt a “loner.” If your native and reading this, spend time with our youth. Pray for them. Teach them how to live morally in an immoral society. Above all, love them. Rest in peace Jaylen. Prayers for the family. A-Ho

    1. no frickken kidding our own people buy their kids..cell phines..have wifi…buy games..anything to get a thing n object to babysit their kids…come on wake the frick up..we as a first nations r at fault to our own communities…its bad enough our own always throw the buck to someone else of WHY?….reason why…is common sense…walk your talk. bring culture back…help eachother to return to the dance circle or ceremonies…the whitemans education aint helping our youth its burying our youth becuz its a system not meant for our natural laws…degrees dont get us to heaven….our lifes journey does..n when that backbone of yhe eaglefeather road is complete we all go home to our spirit world..this world we live in now…is only ..physically lent …spirit world is our true home..no anger/judgement/..just unconditional love ..

  8. The author of this article needs to take a deep breath and go outside into the sunshine. It’s time to stop playing the race card. Every time you play the race card, you’ve lost the game.

  9. I am white and I absolutely despise how the natives have been treated by other cultures.. That being said, I despise any kind of racism. Being a good or bad person has absolutely nothing to do with where you come from or your culture. You choose who you’re going to be. With all that being said, my heart breaks for jaylen and everyone involved. No I’m not saying it’s ok that he shot those kids.. But like it’s been mentioned, none of us know what he was going through. It must of been pretty terroizing in himself for him to harm the people closest to him and himself. I don’t think this had to do with racism due to the fact that he harmed his own family. But I don’t know, just like no one else knows that didn’t know him. What’s important right now is for people to show empathy and support to the people who are struggling with this whole situation. My thoughts, prayers, and love to them all.

  10. Reblogged this on Little Cheesehead on the Prairie and commented:
    This is something worth reading, especially the comments. I’ve noticed that when there is a debate involving Native Americans and their culture, the tone is almost always condescending. And like in any other issue involving white people who are blind to their own privilege talking about rights that others have to fight for and which they (whites) take for granted, those people who want equal rights and to be treated fairly are talked about in terms that suggest that these people are not human beings.

    1. Too true. You should see the comments I haven’t posted for their straight-up racist, name-calling attacks to my ideas and person (did you know being raped would give me better perspective on life? #truestory). I only censor what isn’t productive to conversation. But you’re missing out on some quality trolling 🙂 Thanks for the reblog!

    2. One mistake people make is precisely that: “Native Americans and their culture.” Culture as in singular. There is no single indigenous culture. There are over 550 native nations in the U.S. and each has a unique culture/language/religion, etc. There are similarities in some ways but again, there is no ONE culture. There are Navajo, Hopi, Penobscot, Lakota, Osage, etc etc.

      Apologies for going a bit OT but this is something that must be understood by non Native people.

      This was a terrible tragedy – a great loss of several youth. A sad day for all concerned. Mental illness is tough.

      1. You’re absolutely right, Kezia. There are 566 *federally recognized* Native nations (http://www.bia.gov/WhoWeAre/BIA/OIS/TribalGovernmentServices/TribalDirectory/), although that number changes all the time and is a poor barometer in most cases since it implies only the government can grant sovereingty (#wrong!). Different issue for a different day. But issues like Native representation in media impacts all indigenous people, because it – say it with me – ERASES OUR UNIQUE TRIBAL IDENTITIES!!! How can we participate in humanity if one of the most critical elements of ourselves (tribal identity) is only paraded to outsiders as entertainment???

  11. I believe more research needs to be done on Historical Trauma. I’ve been reading about it more lately. I did enjoy this article. As I am a Native American, (Indian), Indigenous person. I’ve been upset about the situation in Marys ville since I first got word of it. My thought…a Native boy?? really?? so up 2 nights in a row…I’ve looked though his Facebook..no signs of anger…but i see how well he was brought up. His family seemed involved in his life…by his sports, hunting, and drumming. It impressed me to see he was learning about his culture. To me, i think he was depressed, and at the stage in his life, felt heartbreak….way to soon. Heartbreak can really take hold…like a drug?? i so have to much to say. and am not a writer…but to me….this article and historical trauma…could equal such a lost to such a sad story of this young man. He had a wonderful life ahead of him. sighs.

    1. I agree, Aileen. A whole different piece on historical trauma could be written and be just as valid. 500 years of oppression can’t be explained on a Twitter or Facebook timeline. But it’s there. It’s everywhere for indigenous people.

  12. I believe this article speaks truth about the way natives are portrayed and about how they/we still undergo all sorts of racism. But one thing i must say is we also need to teach our children to respect all people. I myself am half white, one quarter chippewa cree, and another quarter salish. Ive experienced racism from both aspects. I’ve been called a Prairie nigger and redskin. but I have also been told I am NOT allowed to dance my cultural dance, because I am NOT native enough,I look too white. Too white to drum. I am too white. Even though I was raised here with my people, raised within the tribe I can never truley embrace my culture because I don’t look native enough. Racism goes both ways. No, not on as big of a scale as the white man to the natives. But in turn we teach our children to hate, and shut out white people. Even if they are part of the tribe.

  13. Put the race card away. He killed his relatives and friends, fellow Tribal members. Some people just want to scream racism at the top of their lungs at any opportunity to advance their political cause, and yes, racism is political!

  14. I think this article is in good taste and I greatly appreciate the attempt at understanding us. Though some might disagree, I also find it foolish for anyone to bash anybody who only wishes for a better understanding of our struggle as Native Americans. It’s still a step closer to understanding each other.

  15. I personally never looked at a single picture and thought about race. It’s not about race and never was. The poor kid had problems that led to his death and sadly he took others with him. The whole situation is sad and I wish you could reach out and hug everyone involved, but I honestly don’t think anyone meant to take any photo and paint a picture of a crazed killer, they were painting a picture of a popular kid who loved his tribe and happened to love hunting. Don’t turn a tragedy into a race thing. It’s not about that. I really hate when it gets turned into that when there are obviously other things that need to be thought about.

  16. I’m really tired of comments like Henry’s. I’m really tired of Jaylen being called a thug. I can relate to what AmberS is saying. My child was adopted from China and raised in a white family. I’m tired of people telling her she’s not really Chinese.

  17. Thank you for the blog and thank you to everyone who posted intelligent responses. A highly valid discussion in our current times. Our past/history is so important to our future. Respecting each other’s cultures and backgrounds and the undeniable right to be an equal human being, is the only way we can move forward. It makes me cry to think I probably won’t see those values come to any sort of fruition in my lifetime. Right now, there is too much hate and fear. Maybe in my son’s lifetime? I can only hope:)

  18. As a half breed wagi, Hoh, Quillutte, Quinault, & Cunuk I am a green eyed blonde. 6″1′ & raised under families who have been a major part of my home town’s growth in medicine & rivers.
    I have seen racism fester in those that say there is none. My skin color allows some wagi to feel comfort in their words…
    I have had to stand up to a crowd of logger kids because they were acting as if we natives were rich.
    The conversation between that crowd had no idea I was an Indian until I voiced “if you all don’t stop talking bad about Natives I’ll scalp you all.”
    I turned into a hero that day, not because I was willing to take on a crowd but because those kids had no idea how hard it was to live off of the Rez. No one spoke after my threat. Because maybe their racist remarks that started my uneasy feeling were recognized that evil begets evil.
    I am no way a fighter.
    I actually ran from same type of bullies as a kindergarten – 9th grade who took their racist hate out on me…
    There is no need for teaching hate.
    But you have to think, some in our generation has witnessed hangings, cruelty unimaginable to even speak of.
    I wish I had the sixth sense for right words at right times and I am blonde. But I follow my heart.
    I lately have been treated like one of those natives that needs those big rims by my kids mother… I can’t ever find a place where there is not a racist comment.
    Maybe I am over dramatic, but I had been beaten & thrown out of my own home because???
    Who knows. I have never spoke about my past because it hurts and kids can be cruel in ways they do not know are.
    We as a society have always been racist to those we are at war with.
    Towel head… is not as offensive as a Desert N!**@. But our society has without a doubt been ran by white men since they mistook our generosity and killed us literally.
    I hate being a torn soul. Would it have been easier to be one side or the other. Yes, but is it more important that people know that racism makes society? Am I babbling? Am I wrong?
    I have no idea, but I have police reports in a methadone situation & I can not get help from wagi (where my kids are), & I can not get help from my tribe.
    Treating me like I did something wrong because I was speaking about this same matter!
    I feel I am being mistreated by my family for standing up for my Elders’ named restaurant.
    I was treated with great hostility from many wagi in a Native establishment. Because I wanted the place cleaner, better organized, & better manners for the staff! The first day I was there working a server that was white was allowed to yell at me & use curse words. Staff witnessed it.
    I was made to work without breaks like the staff was understaffed. I was told to start smoking if I wanted a break.
    I was actually told that. Like a mandated break was not enough I had to ask to relieve myself or eat. A true slave in this modern World.
    I went through the chain of command and found other problems had already been recognized. I could not understand why these people were not fired when it was recognized before I had even started.
    But as I went through this chain of command I finally got a meeting with council where I was ignored even when coucil spoke in my name and other natives treated the same. One spoke that it was current and how it should be handled.
    Yet it was over ruled. I threatened to sue because I know I can but did not wish to hurt my reservation with such a crippling blow.
    but now I think I would like for a specialist such as yourself to interview me for such a story that did not end this way.
    As I may plea to our newest generation that violence is never the way.
    Some of us know only how to be blind to meanness because it does not happen to us. Some decide that pain doesn’t exist & can over come the language and work through it.
    But when our tribe was losing monies because this Groupe of wagi were actually telling customers that the tables would be ready in 25-35 minutes… WHEN THERE WERE MORE THE 15 TABLES THAT ONLY NEEDED SILVERWARE…
    It was a disgrace… I know how business is suppose to be. My grandma was the first nurse in my village. She had one of thehugest pproperties to live on. Our Christmas at her and my grandpa’s always had presents that hid the tree our family is huge!
    I just mean I was raised with many and know many ways.
    But now I have only two more days before I could lose the right to see my kids without a supervised visit. Lied about being kicked out of my home do to their mom’s addiction.
    I feel like I am being punished for no reason and can not get legal representation by my tribe because they are opting out of sovereign rights I qualify for.
    I stood up for those that had no idea of our cash losses or straight theft. & treated like I am the thief, or methadone user.
    I have created some sad posts that are anger because I have and will only use my voice.
    I have been taught by a well respected father who has never started a fight for no reason.
    I am sorry for your guys loss in this time.
    I have a son who has a terminal disease. I can only imagine when this day comes I will feel such sorrow as losing a son.
    Love is brushed off now days because there are t.v. adds of old ladies tweark’n…
    Major scales have been tipped in the Holy field.
    Weather Christians, Jews, Hebrew, German, Russian, Indians agree or disagree, we all know our ways have to stop and treat every history as a hallmark moment. We all have beautiful pasts from beautiful ancestors.
    None can be better if they are all good.
    Of course this is my opinion and if I have anything I can say about history at it’s worse is please do not ignore red flags.
    Teach love instead of Wilt Chamberlin, teach respect instead of news of torture, teach health instead of wealth.
    I voice my opinions that many see and wish they could say. But it is hard living in any society if the peers that get away with picking on us go unheard.
    Friends or family please listen to those that cry out.
    Hug us that walk through tragedy. Tell us when and where you’ll be there for us instead of letting us hang on the back burner.
    History only repeats itself to those who ignore it.
    & I wish we all could get along peacefully.
    If you ever get to a point of rage please think about your true intention. Weather it being the first in your family to make a patent, or your goals to turn everything bad into good.
    We miss all of you who are gone and can never speak again.
    Please, I know I need major help because I am an outcast by some because I choose to live in an environment where censorship is a goal for my babies to see what life is like without your families calling you Hoquat or Pieute…
    If I offend any I am sorry I am speaking from my heart and mean not to be mean or act as if I have the answer.
    I just know in all that it is hard when sovereign rights are violated and family does nothing. I have no idea what happened at that school or family. Nor can I say this is why it has haopened. Like many say it was over love…
    Why is the female not being looked into? So many females get off the hook for being like a door nob… I have seen some that get no blame even when you know they are single.
    But like all these t.v. shows most programs now days would make our ancestors turn over in their grave just from a comercial… We have lost our native ways as piece keepers and guardians of the Earth.
    Like I said, these are only my thoughts.
    Wish I could rewind time to save those in their moments of weakness. I wish I could Shake over this World.
    But maybe I am so ignorant.
    No one wants to help me get my children out of their hostile environment so I speak, I cry, I beg, I do what ever it takes to let go of the energy as long as it does not hurt anyone physically.
    & if me words hurt, maybe it’s time for change?
    Gun rules would not save anyone on a mission. But a good friend or family member who takes time off from facebook, or any other social networking to listen to a person instead of just reading their posts later like there was never a sign.
    Lately all I here in my hometown offices are “We are going to lose our grant” cries.
    We were given a powerful gift to predict.
    To the Son, The Father, & Holy Spirit may we gather ourselves even as many of us feel like our head is in the kitchen, our feet are in the bedroom, our bodies in the living room, may we gather ourselves and others to learn why we are poverty. May we gather ourselves to gain momentum to fight against racism. May we gather to find a healthy future.
    So sorry for your lose.
    Sorry I wish not to offend by my thoughts and problems of my own.
    May you all have strength to move forward. May we all come together even if hated to reach common goals so we all can live with smiles. May we all pray for a moment to those in this time of weakness.
    May God help you all & I to find a comfort zone worth sharing
    Ma Si

  19. To all of you I leave this , may peace surround the families that have been devastated from this tragedy. Let us all remember that times like these are very hard to understand and for anyone to say anyone should not speak of this tragedy is wrong, but with that said we also should be reminded that this is a very fragile time for all , especially the ones close to the departed from this tragedy. Please let us be reminded this is the time for condolences and peace for those that are hurting. Thank you to all of you that are so aware of what is happening and lets work together so these tragedy’s can be overcome by showing intention of love for each other

  20. This has nothing to do with race . He was upset about a brake up . Yes I know by first hand this is true and a fact so people stop talking shit . My nephew was best friends with Gia and was friends with the shooter as well as all the people invalved . He was a good kid a awesome kid but he broke down and this happend . I feel for all involved I pray for all the family’s even the shooters family . Everyone needs to stop making shit up and starting stuff that dosent need to be started . Some people need to grow up .

    1. I cannot understand why no one mentions the possibility of damage to a portion of Jaylen’s brain (frontal lobes) from hits in football. On June 19th, he tweeted that he was going to the hospital. Anyone know if it was due to a hard jolt to his head or body? People who suffer undiagnosed brain damage can appear to be mentally ill or depressed or do things thst are “uncharacteristic” for that person.

  21. Americans shoot each other all the time, particularly in schools. I don’t think this is to do with school mascot oppression. It happens all the time in American high schools.

  22. Rhank you for writing this article and inciting this conversation..
    I am a Canadian status Indian “I was attacked by th RCMP in nanaimo because I was standing outside a bar talking t someone.
    My head as slammed into a brick wall on December 6th,2009 I woke up in th back of a police car with my wrists bound I did manage t sit up but knew I’d bin hurt. I told th officer, I needed help to which he replied ” you shut th fuck up Martin your going t th drunk tank, where all you fuckin Indians belong”those were his words. I filed a complaint with the RCMP complaint commission but it was dismissed because they thought I was only after money?!?? I told th special investigator tht I’m a ” real living human being” kuu-as, my language. He respond ed by telling me tht this was the most profound fuckin conversation he’d ever had! I spent 7 months in th vgh hospital n was referred to with every derogatory name I can think of. After th hospital I was sent t a nursing home and was refuse d help because I was am a stinky Indian “. My life has bin an ongoing struggle since I’ve HD a stroke, I ran away so I could live on my own. I was disowned by my fmly because I’m a cripple now and a ” fuckin nuisance “.
    I lived on th streets of Victoria in December 2010 and January 2011. I came t understand tht we don’t know each other. Everyone including street people hv their favorite names for us. Businesses health care workers, social workers, pharmacists, counselor s, physiotherapists, police officers, my family, bus drivers, and people of every walk don’t want t know me for whatever reason. I come from good people and am a good person. And hv contemplated my death many times. My life seems futile at times and it seems tht th only way t be hrd is by violence or screaming as loud as I can. Not my nature… But I’ve run out of options. I’m a trouble maker if I complain, I’ve had a stroke n dismissed , I’ve HD a brain injury n am not in my right mind, I’m a savage and am just trying t get another freebee, it goes on and fuckin on. I can’t win. I hv no fuckin life” I am not allowed t hv a life. Because you can’t fight th RCMP. The RCMP always win”. “Indians always lose”…

  23. But I think he is, going to school for studying, not to fool around with girl. he did not know shit about life. On his face book he said ” I love you babe, all of my life” that is BS. how do he know about the future. why don’t you think he is not your indian savage

  24. We are social creatures us humans. We like to be part of communities. We like to help each other out and look after each other. Only once we can honestly sit down and address the deep hurts and fear that pervade the very fabric upon which our societies will we be able to move forward and heal our very unhealthy communities.
    Our way as humans has been scuppered by a incessant need to be more, buy more and judge our fellow humans. One day the earth will shudder and we will no longer be here.
    Yellow, pink, white, brown, red, black. These are all just colours. Man-made constructs. Fill your hearts with love and light. If you see a human that is sad, offer a shoulder. If you see a human that is hungry, offer food. Because ignorance and judgement just perpetuates this unhealthy hamster wheel of capitalism and greed we have been born onto.
    My thoughts go out to all the people who have lost a loved one. To all the native peoples around the world who suffer the degradation of historical grief and to all non-native people who are uneducated to historical fact because of the bureaucratic blindness that informs our education systems.
    Kia kaha Koutou. Be strong all of you. Arohanui au ki a koutou. I have big love for you all.

  25. everyone who commented negatively pretty much proved the point of the article. really you could have used the name of any native American teen and this blog would be true. it is wonderful Anna is willing to learn more and do her best to understand the blog and not discount it. generational trauma is always a factor. If you don’t know what that means please educate yourself on the subject. If you have never lived in two worlds you can never possibly understand the daily struggle. one part of you says go team because they are your friends and family while another part says “really ? I am going to stand here and make fake chopping movements and yell go tomahawks?” . the struggle is real and daily. nyawenha for writing this blog.

  26. I’m native american, from the Quilliute. Honestly, the mascots with the tomahawks and spearheads aren’t really that bothersome at all. Seems like people trying to stir up much drama as possible, I’ve met the kid who shot those other people too, He was a really cool guy, couldn’t imagine him doing this, His girlfriend broke up with him than that happened after.

  27. I will smoke some tobacco for Jaylen as the creator takes him on his final journey, let’s not forget him please. and stop belittling Natives it’s very disturbing I too am Native I live in Quebec where they truly hate us, but everyday we thrive and learn and get stronger. To Jaylen may he rest in peace.

  28. RACISM had NOTHING to do with this! This kid was disturbed! I am so sick of racism coming up every time someone who classifies as ‘non-white’ does something awful! His family needed to know what was going on in his life – they needed to be monitoring his social media accounts. Parents now want to be their child’s friend, when what they NEED is to be a PARENT. And no matter what his twitter feed may have indicated about the romantic drama….there was way more going on in this kids head. A child doesn’t just wake up one day and decide to kill himself and all that ‘wronged’ him. There were probably a lot of indicators that he had no coping skills….and a parent who was INVOLVED in their kids’ life would see that. I have taken away all my daughter’s technology and grounded her for the foreseeable future just because she started a facebook account without my permission. I will follow her to school, read her emails, and her texts – whatever it takes – to be sure that not only is SHE safe, but also to see if the friends she associates with are having problems either. She knows this. We talk to her about it all the time. She (as teenagers do) tested us by starting that page. She knows we’re serious now. Does this make me over-bearing? Am I violating her privacy? YOU BET YOUR ASS I AM!!!! It is my JOB to protect my child. It is my RESPONSIBILITY to make sure my child is loved, supported, or called on the carpet when she makes bad choices. You have to have a license to carry a gun, to catch a fish, to get married…..but any jack-ass can be a parent. Maybe if the family of this kid had paid more attention, they would have been able to help him. They may have been able to prevent this tragedy. At the very least, they would have known that a kid this unstable should NOT have had access to a gun. In my opinion, this is not a RACE ISSUE….this is a PARENTING issue. And more importantly, a MENTAL HEALTH issue. Because somebody who would choose violence as a way to deal with his depression, clearly had some serious mental health issues.

    1. You said it yourself, “there was more going on in this kids head”. Yes, maybe in his mind he wasn’t thinking “I’m gonna snap because I’m sick of racism” it’s the effect over years and years of being exposed to the traumas of race and identity issues. It was a culmination of many, many things and I agree with the author about this. Especially when comparing it to tobacco companies. It’s not going to kill you quickly, but slowly, very slowly. In my opinion you either get it, because you’ve experienced it, or you don’t, because you haven’t experienced it. Prayers to our neighbors in Marysville and the Tulalip Indian Tribe.

  29. I am not a Native American but someone who appreciates traditional native cultures as many of the beliefs and teachings ring so true with me. That said, I am a school psychologist, author, blogger and do a great deal of work with minority teens and race issues. I read a number of the replies to your post. While this particular incident may or may not be directly related to racial issues, your point that they exist below the country’s consciousness seems to be true for all who are not white, though, play out differently for different cultures. It took me a great deal of time to understand white privilege which I have begun to understand through my experiences. I believe that many people, especially today’s teens, believe that racism has to be an overt dislike or dehumanizing of a culture. Unfortunately, I believe that racism is so ingrained that many who are victims of it can’t even recognize it. But, it’s there, wrapped in our culture. If I didn’t choose to familiarize myself with actual Native American history and culture, I would be left simply with stereotypes and whatever I see in the media. I wouldn’t have a clue about Wounded Knee or Trail of Tears; not from the text books we studied. Where I work, there is virtually no native presence but a high minority population. I work with those who are the fringe, the ones who unfortunately, are living many minority stereotypes. They are not well educated or enlightened. I am going to ask my students what they know of Native American cultures. I will try to come back and post some of their responses. Meanwhile, to illustrate this point, I would challenge anyone reading this to take the White Privilege Quiz to begin examining the racism that is inherent in our current culture. Paste this link: http://www.mollysecours.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=9&Itemid=13

    1. The blog that started this discussion must come from outside our community. Every article I’ve seen portrays Jaylen Fryberg as an enigma, not as a monster as implied. The most noticeable thing about him with the deer he shot is his smile. The newspapers described him as friendly, scholarly, tribally involved, all this in a very positive manner. The question dealt with why and how could such a person do something like that. To describe him as a nut job loner as the writer implies somehow gets white kids off the hook would be so wrong. No one who knew him could provide anything negative about him prior to this event. This is not to say that there in no racism in Marysville since racism exits to some extent everywhere with no race exempt. The blog itself was filled with racial overtones. No one will ever really know what caused this tragedy, but this community considers Jaylen to be one of the victims and we pray for his family as well as for the victims and their families.

  30. Here in Marysville, they all were our children. It will bring the us closer together sharing the grief. The tribes have suffered a tremendous loss. Our town our family will support them.

  31. Way off base article. This was not the time or place to raise issues about Indian mascots and racism. I abhor the way white people disrespect Indian culture. It is shameful BUT this is not what this tragedy is about. Not once did you mention gun control. This is about a family who raised their son around guns and hunting (which I also abhor) and did not have the sense to secure the gun. This was a well liked boy who got rejected by a girlfriend and chose to slaughter his friends because of it. We live in a broken society and a sick gun cultured world. And I am sorry, but with all due respect, ask the parents of the children he mercilessly led to one table and one by one assassinated them from the back, ask them if they see a beautiful boy. I certainly don’t. I see a cold blooded killer.

  32. For me this is one of the most coherent works of journalism about this incident. Or maybe I am the only one who is intelligent enough to see the message the author was trying to convey. She specifically says time and time again that this is not the reason he committed these acts of violence (we may never know his reasons) but that the RASCISM in our country today is very real and something that is affecting our youth. Think about it like this, Jaylen was said to have had pride for his culture and Native Americans in general are deeply spiritual encouraging community and finding ones self so how can a 14 year old be representing his culture one moment and the next be forced to be a part of a society that mocks it or doesn’t take it seriously? This boy had to constantly live a double life. Could that not promote mental instability? People will continue to argue that Native American symbols in sports are not fascist because these are something to be proud of since it represents the warrior spirit but what if we put a black person in chains on a helmet and say this will honor them and represents their fighting spirit? What people fail to see is that the white elite have taken the pride out of all of our cultures not just Native Americans and corrupted our youth to fit their agenda. If you look at these Twitter posts from all six of the kids I never once saw a single post about their pride for their culture aside from some pictures in native head dress. Instead they glamorize what the system has shoved down their throats through social media, television, movies etc. which is sex and violence. I spent three days reading tweets from not only the six individuals involved but also their friends and post after post it was the same thing. A girl tweeted that she would “shank that ratchet ho if she broke her brothers heart” or another where someone wrote they just wanted to “slang smoke blunts and have sex”. Again if you study the history of non-white cultures you would know that they encouraged a connected community , spirituality, and storytelling. Now a new story is being created and told to these youths by the people who are creating a system in which we lose our culture and succumb to the white America concept. This new system does not encourage us to be prideful of our heritage but distracts us using social media television etc. These kids were not your normal teenagers they all suffered from severe depressions with all six at one point or another tweeting they wanted to die. And why are the parents not reading these
    tweets ? I saw grown adults on these feeds not even mentioning the adult content that these kids mentioned! Because they themselves have been brainwashed as to what is expected to be normal. These kids are growing up raised by technology and the mass media and while everyone is questioning why did this happen and trying to find answers for such a tragedy the answers lie in the society that we are living in today-white America. Kudos to the author for bringing the real issues to forefront and using a tragedy to educate!

  33. Thank you for pointing out the pictures that were selected for press. It frustrated me too that the pictures used all made him look as “scary” as possible when it is not hard to find beautiful pictures of him as well. I don’t think anyone who has lived on a reservation can believe for an instant that race does not affect the lives of young native kids. No one said that it was because of racists in Marysville, simply that Jaylen was an Indian kid in a white dominated school/culture. The local reservation high school “Heritage” did not pick a Native American object as their mascot. That is not a coincidence. Lastly, I am pretty sure that Jaylen and Dr. Fryberg are cousins.

  34. I hate to tread on sensitive territory here, just want to say a couple things:

    (1) I really am refreshed to read comments between blog host and ‘Anna’… it’s great that we can be respectful AND have dissenting / different opinions. Simply labelling and shutting off the brain will only further this darkness that many USA Corp. political leaders have. This is the same mindset that makes it easy for pilots in the military to gun down ‘targets’ (civilian humans) and kill without flinching.

    (2) I think the media’s reaction to the event / coverage of the event was very racist. Even if within the community things weren’t about his Native blood. Any time there is some kind of crime, the full name and age and race of the individual is told right up front. Religion too, but only when muslim.

    (Side note: Media in German / EU in general isn’t like that. No pictures of corpses, no last names of perpetrators unless rightfull convicted, no info about skin colour — is it also a coincidence that there’s far less racism in Germany?)

    The media always distorts the real image of a person…. because media largely furthers the black-or-white mentality of ‘if this person did a bad thing, this must be a bad person’. people are people, they have both good and bad in their character. I mean, God forbid I get arrested, then photos of me with my grandfather’s .20 gague (that I use for pheasant hunting with my father) will start floating around, with no regard to copyright infringements.

    I can relate to the writer being upset about point #2. I often get really outraged with sexual abuse is played down like it’s a minor crime (forced sex with minors not being called ‘rape’ in the newspapers, for example)…. I won’t continue down this path of a long rant, just pointing out similarities in society’s many fallacies.

    I’d look up facts right now about male caucasian American terrorists, but don’t have the time… a lot of crimes and acts of terrorism are committed by white guys. I agree completely with the writer’s outrage over the ‘white guy getting off the hook’. It’s prevelant these days, as it was even more so some decades / centuries ago.

  35. I found this very interesting. I have a Native American grandmother so i think that makes me in part a Native. However I don’t really look the part. My job allowed me to work on many of the reservations in our country only one time did I share with a group that I was part Native. I was laughed at and called a “wanna be”. So I guess racism and bullying can come from all sides of this. Perhaps we need to accept each other for where we are now and move forward in love.

  36. This certainly was an interesting take on this horrific crime. I am white, so I can’t speak to the racism portion. I can only speak as a mother, and as someone who hates racism of any kind. To me, we all belong to the Human Race. To me, that is what’s the most important. I hurt so badly for his mother and father, and his extended family and friends. As the mother of four children, one of which is in her teens, I can safely say that parenting a teenager in this day and age is horrifyingly hard. I am always on the lookout for signs that she’s struggling too much, and am always trolling her social media accounts. I cannot imagine what the family is going through at this point. I just know that as a human, I want to hug his parents and tell them that I feel terribly for them. So many people are out there, dragging this clearly troubled child through the mud. So many people are also out there, looking for racism around every single corner. At this point in time, I wish I had a magic wand that could erase all the hurt that everyone has experienced at the hands of racism. I am more of the mind that this family, this culture…doesn’t need to be under a microscope at this point. Right now, they need our love, our acceptance, and to know that the rest of America is hurting right alongside them. Is that such a hard concept to imagine?

  37. Hey, peace to you, but it’s not about race, it’s not about the Redskins or what not. Racism is an issue, but not this issue.

    If Jaylen’s past photos and bio is full of Native American images that’s because that’s who he was. It cannot be avoided. Judge him for the person he was, and his final acts.

    What are the issues? An adult who did not secure a legally registered firearm. How Jaylen treated women (his social media speaks). Was he a bully?

    Most important, it’s no longer about him, it’s about his victims. There are Native American issues worth fighting for, this isn’t one.

    Jaylen Fryberg: Can We Forgive a Murderer? Should We?

    Jaylen Fryberg’s Porn Themed Twitter Account

  38. Seems to me he killed a girl because she broke up with him. His twitter feed had a lot of warning signs. Racism sucks, for sure, but so does women being treated like objects who belong to someone. Shame on all societies who treat women as second class citizens.

    1. I completely agree with this message. I’m not as familiar writing about patriarchy (so, you know, I didn’t write about that), but have read other articles that eloquently express anger toward the misogynistic ideals we force upon boys and young men. Again, a lot of the images in media depicting Natives are wrought with violent, aggressive masculinity. And – once again for the people who can’t read, not you, Jen, but other commenters – this observation that oppressive systems like racism and misogyny are at play in the lives of young people who do bad things is in no way intended to imply that these bad things are being excused or justified. But if we don’t work to dismantle racism and sexism, we’re going to continue getting these kind of tragic results.

  39. Wow…such a vast array of opinions and directions in which fingers are pointed. Claims of “knowing” someone who knew someone and they said, she said, he said, Statements of “I read” tweets. I never saw, it’s not about this, it is about that….not in our town, not in our school, he was well-liked, he was a murderer, he was voted Homecoming Prince so he must have been well-liked, unlicensed gun, where were his parents,? It’s his fault, his parents fault, society’s fault, someone should have cared, someone stopped caring, it was a break-up, it was the result of ingrained effects of racism, stereo-type depiction, there were warning signs, it’s because of mascots, mascots have nothing to do with it, well-respected, 100% equals, peer pressure, there was racism at the school; no there wasn’t racism at the school, the facts say, you don’t know the facts, It’s a BLOG people….A BLOG. Missuswrackspurt had valid concerns and points, as did Kasey Navi Phifer, silky1283, signessx1, Julie Patterson, susan, Derrick Covers Up, Jaden, and Aileen that so many of you readers missed. The points I understand were made in the blog was unless you have lived systemic racism via, stereo typical mascots, one sided history lessons that use the word “massacre” only when “nons” were killed , been told to “get over it”, have experienced residential schools or had family members experience such, been called ‘chief”, “squaw” or “prairie nigger”, had parents or grandparents beaten for speaking their language, or lost you language as a result, have murdered or missing relatives, been raped because a white person said “that’s what you’re there for”, have lands stolen from your people, know that genocidal practices are a denial perpetrated by the government and 70-80% of North American non-original inhabitants, have practicing your ceremonies, culture and traditions punishable by forced “laws”,….you cannot truly, understand, the depth that racism reaches into a dehumanized soul.
    Some stories have said racist remarks were made. How do we know what was said or how it affected Jaylen? What were the circumstances behind “the breakup”? How can we interpret what was said in a “tweet” or facebook page? What lead up to any tweets or facebook messages? How do we know what lead up to any racist remarks? Did becoming Homecoming Prince upset someone else? Did we forget what it was like to be a teenager with our hormones and testosterone going haywire? Can’t we recall making stupid irrational decisions in our youth? Didn’t we all experience a break-up that totally crushed us and sent us into a depression whether short or long lived? Being a teenager is probably the most difficult time in anyone’s life especially with your body changing and having to transition from child to responsible youth. Our bodies were chemically imbalanced off and on for those years. We were more susceptible to depression. Didn’t we all have a friend or friends who became totally irrational at the drop of a hat or “lost it” over something you couldn’t understand? Jaylen may have suffered from depression and hid it very well. Most people who suffer from depression are able to put on a front to hide their depression. So please, keep things in perspective…..You don’t know…..so specifically blaming his parents….his breakup…his argument or disagreements with family or friends for what happened can’t ever be known.. He wasn’t able to cope with his “demons” so to speak….how much racism played a part we will never know….but it DID play a part in his actions. So let him rest….pray for his family and the families of those who were killed. Pray, burn tobacco, and think….think about what you can do to make changes or understanding in your life As a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) woman I accept my peoples story and inherited oppression and know that until the governments of the entire world especially in North America, acknowledge the atrocities inflicted upon all Original Nations of Turtle Island, each forthcoming generation will continue to carry that burden until it is put upon the shoulders of the people who should be carrying it!.This is a fact: Racism IS an unwanted experience continually shared by every Original person.

  40. This whole writing his horse-hockey. It is authors like this who perpetuate racism in this country by trying to make everything that moves a race issue. This had squat to do with race. The kid was pissed off over a girl, grew depressed and unnaturally angry over it, and whacked the kids he thought had dissed him – including family members of his own RACE. Period. Geez… Such a stupid writing that does nothing but belittle any of our nations.

  41. I found this article by accident and was about to share on my page as I was in total agreement with the view/opinion. Then I read down through the comments and am feeling a little disgusted. I guess being a “white” person, this is probably not the forum I should be looking at… I’m thinking you will tell me to go read some “white people” articles, media or tweets (because we are all so ignorant like that)! Racist much yourself??? The reason I point this out (dramatically) is that although I have some native heritage passed down along the family tree and my son is bi-racial (Hispanic), you would sit on this commentary and stereotype me along with all the other WHITES! Being a mother myself, I am happy to say that no matter what my children go through with bullying and racial discrimination (and believe me they do!), I do not support or join in with more of the same, which would be racial bashing of any other person; white, black, native, hispanic, asian…. I do believe you have an important path in this work you are doing on this blog and for your people, but don’t let yourself become skewed and add to the hate… then you become the same as the rest. Stop the hate so our kids, the kids of all nation’s, didn’t and don’t die in vain!

  42. It is amazing that so many people think there is no racism just because the kid was elected homecoming prince. That don’t mean anything. He was probably that school years racial token to be awarded. The mere fact that the white people are upset by you calling them out, tells me everything I need to know. To all the people who say it was caused by bad parenting, why don’t you take a look at how you teach your children about how you marginalized people of color and how giving out some mess of pottage doesn’t cut it. And while you at it, why don’t you ask why we have such a rotten mental health system, since you care so much about this kid and native kids like him. The truth is that all of you people screaming trash at the article author don’t care about people of color unless there is something we can do for you.

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