Disney can’t seem to get it right.
The company’s Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, apologized Friday after a performance from a Texas high school’s drill team was laden with Native American stereotypes, including repeated chants of “scalp them!” It came just days after the company faced intense backlash over its silence to Florida’s controversial sex education bill, labeled by many critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The company told the Associated Press the performance, done by Port Neches-Grove High School’s “Indianettes” drill team on Tuesday, “did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place.” It claimed the performance did not match the audition tape sent by the school to the park’s organizers.
“We have immediately put measures in place so this is not repeated,” Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler said. The video was shared by Tara Houska, a tribal attorney and the founder of “Not Your Mascots,” a group dedicated to reducing stereotypical depictions of Native Americans.
Cuz a bunch of kids in fringe chanting “scalp ‘em Indians, scalp ‘em” is honor, right?
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
— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) March 18, 2022
The school’s website—which features a Native American in a headdress as its mascot—said the Indianettes have been a tradition for half a century.
The school district released a statement Friday saying it was aware of the backlash to the performance, though it claimed the routine had been performed at Disney for years and no issues has previously been raised. Still, it pledged to focus more on diversity.
“We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our school district,” it said in a statement. “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.”