Disney World ‘regrets’ performance by high school’s ‘Indianettes’ drill team at Magic Kingdom
(NEXSTAR) – A spokesperson for Disney says the company “regrets” an incident that took place at the Magic Kingdom earlier this week, during which a Texas high school’s drill team used Native American stereotypes in a live performance.
“The live performance in our park did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place,” said Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler. “It was not consistent with the audition tape the school provided and we have immediately put measures in place so this is not repeated.”
In clips of the performance that have been shared to social media, members of the Port Neches-Groves High School’s “Indianettes” can be seen wearing faux feathers in their hair and chanting, “Scalp ‘em, Indians, scalp ‘em,” while performing their routine.
Tara Houska, a tribal attorney and activist, called the performance “nostalgic racism” on Twitter and added that it was “dehumanizing” to any of the team’s Native American schoolmates. In her tweet, she also included a clip from the performance, which had been viewed over 1.2 million times as of Saturday afternoon.
Chuck Hoskins, Jr., the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, also called out Port Neches-Groves High School officials, saying the tribe had been asking the school district to discontinue its use of “offensive imagery, chanting, symbolism and other practices” for years, but were ignored.
“School leaders need educating on cultural appropriateness, should apologize for continuing to ignore our requests to stop and need to make swift changes to correct these offensive displays across their school district,” Chief Hoskin wrote.
The Port Neches-Groves school district has since issued a statement to a local news outlet in Beaumont, Texas, saying they are “aware of the concern regarding the performance of our band and Indianettes at Disney World.”
“We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our school district. Our district is nearing 100 years old, and our Board of Trustees is committed to always making the best decisions for our students, staff, and the communities of Port Neches and Groves,” the district told Beaumont’s KFDM-TV.
Disney’s spokesperson did not detail how the school’s audition tape differed from that of the live performance. Houska and others, however, have noted on Twitter that the Indianettes have performed their routines at Disney World in previous years, also while wearing headdresses.
“[The school’s] cheerleaders weren’t allowed to wear the fake headdresses as they usually do, but the scalp ‘em chant was approved,” Houska claimed, citing an article from unofficial Disney World fan site which included photos of the Indianettes’ outfits.
Port Neches-Groves High School’s social media pages, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, have been deactivated or made private. A video of the Indianettes at Disney World from March 15 was still available to view on the school’s official YouTube page as of Saturday morning.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.