On the heels of public backlash and outrage, Walt Disney World officials said they “regret” hosting a high school drill team that used racially insensitive stereotypes in their performance.
The Texas-based “Indianettes” drill team executed the performance in question, associated with Port Neches-Grove High School. It included the high schoolers donning Native American costumes and chanting “scalp ’em Indians, scalp ’em.” It was recorded by one audience member and soon began circulating Twitter, where it was widely condemned for being racist.
Cuz a bunch of kids in fringe chanting “scalp ‘em Indians, scalp ‘em” is honor, right?— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) March 18, 2022
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
Once Disney officials began feeling the heat over the matter, they accused the drill team of performing a routine that differed from the one shown in the audition tape, even though Port Neches-Grove High School openly displays a Native American as its mascot.
“The live performance in our park did not reflect our core values. We regret the performance took place, as it did not reflect the audition tape that was submitted. We have immediately put measures in place to ensure performances reflect the auditions,” Disney Spokesperson Jacquee Walter said.
The Port Neches-Grove Independent School District (PNGISD) released a statement that tiptoed around the controversy in response to the matter.
“PNGISD is 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,” PNGISD said in its statement.
A spokesperson for the district also shared that this was the school’s “eighth time at Disney,” and the Indianettes did “the same performance [they’ve] done eight times,” noting that this was supposedly the first time the theme park raised any issues over the routine.
It’s also worth adding that members of the Cherokee Nation have spoken out against the school’s use of Native American mascots on various occasions in the past. Principal Chief Chuck Hostins Jr. has even recently called for PNGISD to “apologize for continuing to ignore our requests to stop and need to make swift changes to correct these offensive displays across their school district.”