UPDATED: After an uproar over a performance by a cheer group at the park this week, Walt Disney World issued a statement today addressing racist stereotypes about native Americans in the drill team’s routine. Video shows the The Port Neches-Groves “Indianettes” High School drill team repeating the words, “scalp ‘em Indians, scalp ‘em,” among other things.
Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler said in the statement, “The live performance in our park did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place. It was not consistent with the audition tape the school provided and we have immediately put measures in place so this is not repeated.”
PREVIOUSLY AT 12:25 p.m.: What’s been a bad stretch for Disney Parks’ self-declared “Inclusion” initiative got a little worse this week as video surfaced online of a high school cheer team from Texas performing a routine at Walt Disney World that contained racist stereotypes of Native Americans.
The Port Neches-Groves “Indianettes” High School drill team wore fringed costumes and did dance moves reminiscent of those seen in Native American cultures on the park’s Main Street this week. Their cheer included the words “scalp ’em Indians, scalp ’em” repeated as they performed.
Tara Houska, an Ojibwe tribal attorney and former advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders, tweeted the video and wrote: “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.”
Houska ended with, “Nostalgic racism is RACISM.”
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
Kelly Lynne D’Angelo, a writer on TNT’s Miracle Workers retweeted Houska’s post and added, “99% percent of the people sharing their outrage about this are Native people. Can’t you see that’s the problem too?
“Why must WE be the ones to speak up of all the blatant racism against us? Of our constant mistreatment? Why must we fight, tooth and nail, for you to understand we are human and alive and thriving too?
“Because the thing is: our ways were right and always have been. We know how to make bounty on this earth. How to live EASILY. Our relational practices with each other and the earth are a FUNDAMENTAL CORE to a healthy and harmonious human experience.
“Stop this and grow up.”
99% percent of the people sharing their outrage about this are Native people.
Can’t you see that’s the problem too? https://t.co/GMyrDhN6M4
— Kelly Lynne D'Angelo ✨ (@kellylynnedang) March 18, 2022
Some online noted that the performance by the Port Neches-Groves cheer team did not include one thing: Their headdresses, which they have worn in past performances. Such a costume is considered cultural appropriation, according to the Jim Crow Museum and Ferris State University. Some speculated that their absence was evidence of Disney assessing the performance before it hit Main Street. If so, they wondered, how did the rest of the routine get OK’d?
Last year, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that Disney properties were making changes and “creating a place where everyone is welcome.”
D’Amaro said the company had, starting in 2019, engaged employees and come up with a new guiding principle: Inclusion.
D’Amaro wrote in a blog post, “Every Disney Parks cast member is familiar with our longstanding tradition of The Four Keys – Safety, Courtesy, Show and Efficiency – which have guided our approach to guest service for more than 65 years.” He announced that “Inclusion” would become the Fifth Key which, along with the others will “guide us as we interact with guests, collaborate together, create the next generation of Disney products and experiences, and make critical decisions about the future of our business.”
To its credit, even before that announcement, Disney was making changes.
The Jungle Cruise, a fixture of Disney’s theme parks since the 1950s, got an overhaul early last year designed to address years of complaints that it presents a racist view of indigenous people.
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