Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 21, 2015

'Indigenize Zuckerberg' Natives Protest Facebook Real Names Policy

Natives Protest Facebook 'Real Names' Policy

By Jacqueline Keeler

Censored News

In response to my cousin, Deloria Many Grey Horses-Violich’s repeated suspension from Facebook for her surname I created the event All Natives Become Zuckerbergs! Protest FB Name Policy​.
In solidarity with Deloria Many Grey Horses-Violich's repeated banning from Facebook for her surname we ask that all Native American and First Nations Facebook members and allies change their names to Zuckerberg for one day. You can also choose to change your profile picture in support of #IndigenizeZuckerberg (see attached).
Her account was reported by Biloxi High School mascot supporters as a form of bullying and silencing of Native people. This must stop. Facebook policies should not allow it to happen nor should they collaborate with the bullying of Native people.
I will be changing my profile name because I do not believe that my Facebook account should be more protected than my relatives simply because I have a European surname.
The way these Facebook "real name" policies are enforced reveal cultural biases against our people that are still alive in the minds of our peers. And that is not acceptable. Also, since they rely on an account being "reported" they are useful tools for bullies to use to silence and further marginalize Native people. I cannot silently accept either while I enjoy the protections my surname gives me on FB. That I even have to type that sentence is unbelievable to me in this day and age but then, so is the fact that our people are mascotted. It is all unbelievable and yes, unacceptable in 2015.
You can find me on Google Plus (+JacquelineKeeler) and Twitter (@jfkeeler) if I get suspended tomorrow.
DATE: 4/22/2015
EVENT Page: All Natives Become Zuckerbergs! Protest FB Name Policy​ (
CONTACT: Jacqueline Keeler - and
Deloria Many Grey Horses -
Statement by Deloria Many Grey Horses-Violich about event


Whether the High-powered Facebook machine realizes it or not their strict name policy is having a damaging impact on Indigenous Peoples across Turtle Island. The name policy was put into place to weed out impostors, cyber bullies and people who use false identities, such as the impostors featured on MTV’s reality show Catfish.  The problem is that although this policy was put into place to “protect” members it is singling out and silencing many First Nations and Native Americans who have authentic genuine Indigenous names.
Name giving before and after Colonialism
Prior to colonization naming traditions varied from nation to nation. A person could acquire multiple names in their lifetime depending on their characteristics, accomplishments, and life events.  Names were sacred and very personal.  Indigenous Peoples did not typically carry surnames like those of the European settlers.  This concept of a first and last name was introduced in 1884 when the US Congress created an Act requiring the Bureau of Indian Affairs to conduct an annual census on Indian reservations in the United States.  The census included the individual’s name, English name, sex, age, relationship, tribe, and reservation.  The Indian Agents conducting the census were not fluent in the Native language and often misinterpreted the meaning of the name or would changed the Native name to a European last name.  In some cases, Indian Agents would purposely change a name to something vulgar or demeaning out of spite and animosity towards the family or Nation.
It was also common during the Residential School Era that Indigenous children were given “proper christian” names.  For instance my mother entered St. Paul’s Boarding School in Southern Alberta with a Blackfoot name that translated to “Little Filly” and when she left she was known as Martha Many Grey Horses. Needless to say, the European naming of our people was another attempt to assimilate and strip us of our cultural identity. Dallas Goldtooth from the 1491s points out, “It is a frustrating thing that Indigenous people must constantly struggle to affirm our identities as Native people. Whether that's through derogatory imagery in media or simply our given, proud names on facebook.”
United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples
In Article 2 of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples it states, ““Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.” We have a right to our cultural identity!  It also outlines under the declaration in Article 8, “Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.” As Phil Fountain pointed out, “The United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples is not the endpoint rather the beginning.”  We as Indigenous Peoples need to assert and exercise our inherent rights as Indigenous Peoples.  All Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island need to make sure our next generations knows their rights underlined in the Declaration and implement them in all areas of their lives.  
Community Members Impacted by Name Policy
Last  week I started a petition asking Biloxi High School located in Biloxi Mississippi to please change their mascot the “Indian” and their band uniform where the entire band wears headdresses.   Since becoming vocal on the issue through social media outlets, my account was deactivated twice this past week. Both times I received an email stating I needed to provide proper ID that showed my Facebook name was indeed my “real” name.  Whether it was the Biloxi HS Alumni that tried to get me banned, Facebook still needs to rethink their name policy when it comes to our unique Indigenous names.
I wasn’t the first Indigenous person to be targeted for my last name.  In fact, a petition was started on “Allow Native Americans to use their Native names on their profiles.”  It now has 24, 742 signatures.
Recently, in February 2015 Lance Browneyes helped bring National attention to to the issue when he filed a lawsuit agains Facebook for forcibly changing his last name Browneyes to Brown. Facebook finally agreed to let him keep his name but it took a great deal of effort on his part.  It really shouldn’t be this hard.
Community Call of Action
Today, April 22, 2015 we are asking all Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and Allies to please change your profile last name to Zuckerburg or your profile picture to the one attached with the hashtags #IndiginizeZuckerburg or #notyourZuckerburg
We hope this community call of action will inspire Mr. Zuckerberg to have an open dialog with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island and help educate him on the uniqueness and importance of our names.

1 comment:

MaryJaneButler formerlySyracuseYork said...

I'm not native american indian but I'm very involved in activism. I haven't been able to log into my facebook account of "Occupied Newbie" for 2 years because someone I barely knew reported me as a fake name and doesn't respect anonymity. One of my native FB friends is Rain Chippewa and I have no idea what happened to him. I still get FB notifications but any time I try to log in it only says "We'll take a look at your documents and get back to you.'