A float in the Fort Gibson homecoming parade depicting Native Americans dressed in costumes inside what appeared to be a jail was drawing negative comments on social media Friday afternoon and evening.

The float was in advance of Friday's football game against the Stilwell Indians.

One of those commenting, Raelee Fourkiller of Tahlequah, said she felt the depiction blatantly mocked Native Americans.

"And I refuse to just forget about it," Fourkiller said. "Today, during their homecoming parade several girls were dressed in bright colored paint, cheap craft feathers, headbands, and fringed shirts while they did war calls from inside of a cage saying 'Cage the Indians.' This is not okay."

Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover said he was aware of the backlash the float was getting on social media.

"There was no intention to offend anyone. We were playing the Stilwell Indians," Glover said. "Basically, at Fort Gibson, we respect all groups in everything we do."

Fort Gibson High School Principal Gary Sparks said neither students nor school staffers who saw the float prior to the start of the parade meant to insult anyone.

"There was no intention to do that," he said Friday night. "It's something that's done. If we were playing the pirates, we'd have put pirates in costume in a jail."

Sparks said he was aware of the backlash on social media and said that was unfortunate for the Fort Gibson students. He said some of the students on the float were Native American.

Maddie Lamb was another person outraged over the float and depiction of Native Americans. She is a graduate of Sequoyah High School and has been upset throughout her school career.

"Our native ancestors were physically caged during slavery along with being beaten, raped, and tortured, including women, children and elders," Lamb said. "To this day, Native’s face such discrimination without anyone blinking an eye, and I am tired of it."

Lamb said she knew her posts would likely draw some negative comments. She was right.

"I knew that would happen, but I don't care," Lamb said. "All through school we put up with comments and things like this and no one does anything about it.

"The fact that Fort Gibson is within the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction and we still let this slide is mind blowing," Lamb said.

Reach Mike Elswick at (918) 684-2954, @melswickMPhx or melswick@muskogeephoenix.com.

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