Target: John Dodds, Principal of Cedar City High School
Goal: Demand Cedar High issues a public apology for a performance of a highly offensive and culturally mocking dance.
A dance routine that was mocking of Native American tribal dances was performed during a high school basketball game halftime show in Utah. Cedar City High School, whose mascot is the “Redmen,” decided that it would be appropriate for the dance team to put on fake feathers, wigs and regalia and stomp around to American Indian music. This dance performance was not only offensive to Native Americans in the audience, but it demonstrates the deeper issues of cultural appropriation and ignorance.
Many mainstream Americans have never met a Native American before and regard them as an ancient people from long ago that didn’t make it into the 21st century. This sentiment can be recognized in the caricatures, stereotypes and Halloween costumes featuring an “Indian Princess.” The performance, the costumes and the stereotypical representations are all forms of cultural appropriation that have damaging effects on modern, existing Native Americans. They all mock and devalue the spirituality, culture and traditions of the Native American way of life.
Cedar City High made a terribly insensitive decision when they chose to mock a culture for the entertainment of their audience. Please sign this petition to urge the principal of Cedar City High School to make a public apology for the poor decision of perpetuating cultural appropriation.
Dear Mr. Dodds,
I am writing to you to express my disappointment and concern in your decision to allow your dance team to perform a culturally mocking dance. This dance appeared to be extensively planned and prepared for, since the performers wore mocking regalia, feathers, and wigs while they imitated Native American tribal dances.
Not only was this offensive to Native Americans, but it also perpetuates long-held and ignorant stereotypes about Native Americans. These tribal dances are not to be performed by just anyone, anywhere, and with any props–it is not for entertainment. Like any religious ceremony, these tribal dances are forms of worship and enhance one’s spirituality.
Please take this moment to appreciate the struggles of Native Americans and respect their existence and way of life that has survived tremendous brutality for generations. Perhaps this incident can be transformed into open dialogue between your students and local Native Americans so that your students can learn to respect other cultures and so that healing can begin between American Indians and other Americans. I urge you to issue a public apology for your poor discretion in allowing your dance team to perform such a mocking and ignorant “Native” dance.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: RLYardley