Walt Disney World has reportedly denounced a routine by a high school drill team that was accused of “racism” and borrowing from Native American stereotypes during a recent performance there.
Video, taken March 15 by the Indianettes of Port Neches-Groves High School of Texas, shows the all-female troupe dressed in purple with white fringes as they march and dance — seemingly in imitation of Native American culture—while chanting, “Scalp ’em, Indians, scalp ’em.”
Footage of the group being invited to perform in Orlando sparked a backlash from Native American officials, who called their act “dehumanizing.”
“The live performance at our park did not reflect our core values and we regret that it took place,” Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler told Deadline in a statement. “It did not match the audition tape provided by the school and we took immediate action to ensure this does not happen again.”
The Post has also reached out to Disney officials for comment.
Ojibwe tribal attorney Tara Houska was among those who offered to cancel the performance via social media. write on twitter: “Cause a bunch of kids in fringes sing ‘scalp ’em Indians, scalp ’em’ is honor, right? And all natives participating in @pngisd should probably just accept that their classmates dehumanize them for “tradition”, right? Too bad @DisneyParks is hosting this.”
Her complaint on Thursday attracted more than 11,000 supporters shouted the “racist” performanceincluding other leaders of the tribal community – like Kansas State Rep. Christina Haswoodwho identified himself as Diné and begged Disney to “do it better,” adding, “It’s ignorance at this point.”
Kelly Lynne D’Angelo, a writer for TNT’s Miracle Workers and a Tongva, criticized the lack of urgency in acknowledging anti-Indigenous racism.
“99 percent of the people who share their outrage about this are indigenous people. Can’t you see that’s the problem too?” She wrote. “Why does WE have to be the ones speaking out against all the blatant racism against us? From our constant abuse? Why do we have to fight tooth and nail for you to understand that we are human and alive and thriving too?
D’Angelo went on to condemn the “wild” stereotype promoted by the “scalp ’em” chant. “The thing is, our ways were right and always have been,” she said. “We know how to make riches on this earth. How to live LIGHT. Our relationship practices with each other and with the Earth are BASIC CORE to a healthy and harmonious human experience.”
Houska, who was an adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders during his 2016 campaign, continued her dig in a tweet thread, suggesting that Disney may have greenlit the routine on just one condition.
“@pnghsndns cheerleaders weren’t allowed to wear the fake headgear like they normally do, but the scalp chant was approved.” she shared with an article published Wednesday on Disney Parks fansite WDW News Today.
In recent years, Disney Parks has committed to operating and developing new attractions with one guiding principle: “Inclusion.” To that end, they’ve made several changes to show their dedication to the cause, such as getting rid of the phrase “ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls” during the Magic Kingdom’s “Happily Ever After” fireworks show.
Last year they also updated their “gorgeous” Jungle Cruise ride, which first opened in 1955, by removing problematic depictions of religious symbols and references to indigenous societies as head-hunting “savages.”
“The exciting changes we are making to one of @Disney’s most beloved classic attractions, Jungle Cruise, reflect our commitment to creating unparalleled experiences that reflect not only the best in storytelling, but also the values and rich diversity of our… World.” Disney President Bob Iger tweeted at the time.
Disney’s bona fide inclusion campaign was most recently compromised by its CEO Bob Chapek, who found himself embroiled in Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill debate after fans and employees – many of whom are part of the LGBTQ+ community – denounced the company’s public silence the topic.
Chapek later apologized. “You needed me as a stronger ally in the fight for equality and I failed you,” he said. “I’m sorry.”