The following communique was submitted anonymously to It’s Going Down, which we reprint below.
The communique reads:
On the 127th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre, an anonymous indigenous group reclaimed a large Tipi from outside of “Tribe Kelley” in Nashville, leaving in its place a banner reading OUR CULTURE IS NOT A FASHION STATEMENT and a letter (image attached). They also ripped the Tipi cartoon out of their storefront sign. On Thursday, people from all indigenous nations mourned the anniversary of the massacre were hundreds of Lakota families were murdered in their tipis by the US 7th Cavalry. Meanwhile, Tribe Kelley owners (including Brian Kelley from racist “bro country” duo Florida Georgia Line) posed with the Tipi on the lawn of their store for promotional shots.
In response, Brittney Kelley updated the Tribe Kelley website Friday morning stating that she has some “native blood.” it’s obvious just by reading it that she has no connection to or knowledge of her “native heritage.” Using terms so vague that group all of our nations into one giant plains “indian” noble savage stereotype is racist. The Shawnee, Chickasaw, and Cherokee tribes of this area have never lived in tipis. Claiming your native heritage would mean reconnecting with living tribes and joining us in ceremony, not profiting. We feel sorry for her Cherokee great great great grandma who was probably a princess and deserves better. It’s obvious her use of native imagery has nothing to do with her proclaimed “native heritage” and everything to do with profit and image, as she only posted about her supposed “native lineage” after she was called out by indigenous activists. We found the reclamation process pretty easy and will be sure to keep accepting any other tipis they put up!