March 04, 2016

Dance team mocks Paiute culture

Native American says performance from Utah high school’s dance team mocked tribe’s culture

By Kiersten NuñezA dance routine performed by a Utah high school drill team is getting backlash for its cultural insensitivity to Native Americans.

The video has amassed nearly 20,000 views after it was posted by a parent who saw the performance during a halftime show last week at Cedar High School--home of the “Redmen.”

“The outfits, the music, the way they were dancing, the feathers, the way they were wearing the regalia: I thought it was mocking Native American people rather than honoring them,” said Teyawnna Sanden, who is a member of the Paiute Tribe.

Dancing to drums with echoes of an eagle in the background, members of the Redmen's drill team were on the gymnasium floor wearing colorful feathers and braided wigs.

CHS under fire for Native American halftime dance

By Bree BurkittLast Friday’s halftime performance by the Mohey Tawa Cedar High School drill team has drawn criticisms for the depiction of Native American dress and culture.

The CHS drill team danced to “tribal” music filled with eagle sounds, traditional singing and drumming while wearing braided wigs and fake feathers during last Friday’s basketball game.

The drill team has performed the dance “on several occasions,” according to Iron County School District Superintendent Shannon Dulaney.

The routine came under fire when a video was posted on Facebook by Teyawnna Sanders, a parent of one of the basketball players.

“Why should I have to explain why a non-native is dancing that way?” Sanders commented on the video. “If asked, Cedar’s answer most likely be that they are honoring us. Please do us a favor and don’t. Honor our sovereignty, our treaties—honor us by getting cultural diversity training. But please stop with this.”
How it happened

Paiute Tribal Council responds to Cedar High drill routine

By Cody SmithThe Tribal Council of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah stated its disappointment in Cedar High School’s Mohey Tawa drill team for performing a dance routine it called culturally insensitive.

In response, John Dodds, Cedar High School principal, has assured the Tribal Council the dance will no longer be performed.

“The dance routine imitates the fancy shawl dance which is known as the ‘Butterfly Dance’ or ‘Graceful Shawl Dance,’” Tribal Chairwoman Corrina Bow said in a recent press release. “The performance by the drill team showed no comprehension of this dance style. The way it was performed, with the dancers wearing wigs, holding fans and making dramatic movements, such as legs raised high in the air and bending over, misrepresented the beauty and graceful style of actual fancy shawl dancers.”

According to the release, Mohey Tawa coach Janene McCurdy, along with other representatives of the drill team, met with the Tribal Council last April to inform council members they were developing a routine that incorporated Native American culture. Members of the Tribal Council reportedly expressed concern of the use of headdresses, eagle feathers, face paint and wigs.
Tribal Council says Cedar High School’s dance team mocked culture

By Tracie SullivanDulaney remembers the meeting being held at the end of November at which time, she said, school representatives walked away thinking they had approval.

“Drill team leadership came away from the meeting with the understanding that full support had been given to the dance and the costumes that were intended to portray honor and respect for the Native American culture,” she said.

The council, however, has another memory of what transpired. According to the Tribal Council’s news release, the council did not approve the dance but recommended the drill team work with the Paiute Indian Tribe’s cultural resources director. They also asked to see and approve the dance before the girls performed it in public, according to the release.

“Unfortunately, the drill team did not follow up on any of the Tribal Council’s recommendations,” the news release stated.
Video: School's Halftime Show Called ‘Offensive’; New Poll Finds Fewer Favor R-Word Mascot

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