Recently, a Texas marching band and cheer team performed at Disney, and the mascot and general theme of the school—the Indianettes, who wear Native American outfits and headdresses—has raised some controversy. Within their fight song, the lyrics, “scalp them Indians, scalp them” are a main verse.
While this fight song is wildly racist and undoubtedly cultural appropriation, many people see nothing wrong with this and are mad at Disney for denying the team from performing again at their parks. Originally, Disney disallowed the use of the headdresses in their most recent performance. Shannen Michaelsen, a journalist for WDW found a Facebook post by Terry and Pernell Spillers, who questions Disney’s decision, saying that “Indians from years past have always worn headdresses. How is this offensive????”
Native Americans have never been quiet about their distaste for cultural appropriation within sports teams. Using the term “Indians” is inaccurate to describe tribes, as it was just a misunderstanding of colonists that stuck forever. Christopher Columbus and the colonists believe that they had landed on India and called the Native Americans there Indians. This is completely wrong, so much so that Columbus never even landed in America, instead he arrived in Cuba. Still today, this incorrect label is used to describe tribes.
Simon Moya-Smith, a journalist and citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, told MTV in 2014, “The headdress is reserved for our revered elders who, through their selflessness and leadership, have earned the right to wear one. It’s a spiritual garb, not just cultural; it’s not merely an addition to one’s attire. Wearing one, even an imitation headdress, belittles what our elders have spent a lifetime to earn.”
Disney sent out an apology shortly after the incident saying that the school’s performance “did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place.” They also claim the audition tape sent to them did not match the performance at the park. Despite this statement, the entire school is covered in Native American appropriation. The school’s website has a Native American in a headdress at the top of every page, as it is their mascot. The website also states that the Indianettes team has been a tradition for more than 50 years.
Many people on Twitter have been calling out Disney, as the practices of the high school have not been a secret. Finding out this school’s racist mascot and sports teams wouldn’t have been a grueling task. Overall, many see Disney failing once again at honoring diversity and being accountable for themselves.