You would think that by now, after all the protests about racist depictions of Native Americans, that at least some person in large organizations would realize when something is at best racially insensitive or downright racist and say, “Wait a minute! This is not appropriate.” But apparently not.
Walt Disney World apologised after a Texas high school drill team performing at the entertainment giant’s Florida theme park wore fringed outfits and chanted: “Scalp ’em, Indians, scalp ’em.”
“The live performance in our park did not reflect our core values and we regret it took place,” a spokesperson, Jacquee Wahler, said in a statement.
Native American advocates criticised Disney and Port Neches-Groves high school after video of the performance to Twitter.
“Any Natives who attend [Port Neches-Groves high school] should prolly just accept their classmates dehumanising them cuz ‘tradition’, right?” wrote Tara Houska, an Ojibwe tribal attorney and founder of the Giniw Collective and Not Your Mascots.
“Shame on [Disney] hosting this,” she said. “Nostalgic racism is RACISM.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, a Disney employee asked the troupe to remove headdresses prior to their performance.
Wahler, the Disney spokesperson, said the performance that followed was “not consistent with the audition tape the school provided and we have immediately put measures in place so this is not repeated”.
Cuz a bunch of kids in fringe chanting “scalp ‘em Indians, scalp ‘em” is honor, right?
And any Natives who attend @pngisd should prolly just accept their classmates dehumanizing them cuz “tradition”, right?
Shame on @DisneyParks hosting this. Nostalgic racism is RACISM. pic.twitter.com/ELsJHRgJlw
— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) March 18, 2022
I am pretty sure that Native Americans must be simply fed up with people ‘honoring’ them without first consulting with them about what would be an appropriate form such an action should take, and instead going with the first stereotype that they can come up with and then defending their decisions with ridiculous rationalizations.
If it’s true that this was not the dance they did in their audition tape, it isn’t clear that Disney is to blame with this one (as opposed to, say, Pocohantas). They may have been caught entirely flat-footed.
Do they do lifetime bans from the park anymore? If they do, then putting one on any sponsors and coaches of the team might be a start for saying they were sorry. And maybe a five-year ban on the students, too. They were clearly old enough to know what they were doing was likely to cause a stink — they just didn’t care, and they didn’t think their actions would have any consequences. That goes double for the coach.
Reginald Selkirk says
As long as we’re on the topic of cheerleaders, I think it’s only fair to point out the good they do in society.
Indiana cheerleader saves March Madness game after freeing stuck basketball
The people who seem the most obsessed with cheerleading seem to be the kind of people who would completely applaud a routine that objectifies Native Americans and also worship Disney.