The Boise State homecoming parade allows student organizations to showcase their mission and Bronco Pride. With floats, music and excited bystanders, the parade offers students and locals the chance to learn more about campus involvement.
For some student organizations, the homecoming parade is associated with unpleasant memories rather than positive ones.
The Intertribal Native Council (INC) participated in the homecoming parade last year. As it was their first parade, they were excited to showcase all elements of their organization and their culture. Some participants, however, had other ideas.
“It was our first time, so we didn’t really know what to expect,” said INC member Barbe Tom.
Tom explained that INC’s homecoming float was a representation of their culture, but others chose to disregard the sacredness.
“We had built a teepee in the back and we all sat on hay bales and things like that,” Tom said. “I was the only one dressed up in my regalia. While I was getting ready upfront, I was kind of looking around, and Buster Bronco actually came up and tried to grab my hat off of me.”
Tom said that, because she was not facing him, her reflexes took over and caused her to jolt toward the mascot.
“My initial reaction was to duck and my hand flew up because you don’t touch something that isn’t yours,” Tom said. “It reflects badly on me.”
Chenoa Hayes-Begaye, a member of INC, explained the things she overheard crowd members saying from the float, and said that a surprise visit from Paulette Jordan caused confusion in the audience.
“They were yelling stuff at us in regards to Paulette Jordan,” Hayes-Begaye said. “Like ‘I didn’t know this was a political thing.’ We weren’t associated in any way other than she’s Native American. But they were yelling those political things at us and then they were yelling some other ignorant things as well.”
Tom explained that a potentially dangerous incident took place once the parade began.
“We had an instance where a man actually grabbed at one of the other girls and she didn’t say anything,” Tom said. “When she got away, he was mad. He was saying derogatory things like ‘Oh, she’s such a bitch and I hope she comes back.’”
Buster Bronco made a final appearance toward the end of the parade, and his actions were over the line, according to Tom.
“Buster Bronco came back and he actually started dancing racially,” Tom said. “Like bouncing, hopping to the native music. And we told him it’s not okay and he doesn’t understand why we do it and he kept going and then, eventually, he jumped off.”
Hayes-Begaye explained that new safety measures are being taken this year to protect them from another incident like last year.
“[Multicultural Student Services] staff offered to tape it,” Hayes-Begaye said. “Just be by us, have a camera ready to catch anything. Obviously, we didn’t think to take any measures at all because we didn’t think that what happened was going to happen, but now we kind of have an idea.”
Mikayla Mitzel, the campus programs coordinator, said that she is unaware that the events reached any Boise State officials.
“If we had knowledge of this, obviously we would have had a conversation with Buster, as well as the staff members that oversee the students that are Buster,” Mitzel said. “But to our knowledge, we were not informed that this had happened.”