Disney has once again found itself in the hot seat after a highly offensive performance by a high school drill team from Texas this week left many Guests and Cast Members with their jaws on the floor. And while Disney has since issued a statement about the performance, the high school team says they are the ones who were disrespected.
The Port Neches-Groves High School Drill Team, called the Indianettes, performed at Magic Kingdom on Tuesday. Members of the drill team wore fringed outfits and reportedly entered the park wearing full Native American headdresses, though they were asked to remove the headdresses by Cast Members.
Before the parade performance at Main Street, U. S. A., dancers yelled “Scalp ’em, Indians! Scalp ’em,” near the park’s entrance, which many deemed extremely offensive. The chant is part of the school’s “Cherokee” fight song.
The performance, as well as the many references to Native Americans and a part of history that is true but extremely hard to hear about, have left many angry, including Tara Houska, an Ojibwe tribal attorney and the founder of the Giniw Collective Native American advocacy group. Houska posted the footage of the performance to Twitter on Thursday night, laying blame at the feet of the school district and Disney Parks.
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?
— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) March 18, 2022
“Any Natives who attend [Port Neches-Groves High School] should prolly just accept their classmates dehumanizing them cuz ‘tradition’, right?” she tweeted. “Shame on @DisneyParks hosting this. Nostalgic racism is RACISM.”
Port Neches-Groves High School’s social media accounts were flooded with photos and videos of the performance, and part of the parade in which the team danced was live-streamed by the school’s journalism club, seemingly showing pride in the drill team’s performance at Disney World.
But as of today, the school’s social media accounts have been deleted, and news outlets that have reached out to the school have received no responses. But others who have emailed Port Neches-Groves High School received a response from the school, asking that people “take time to research to see what an exceptional school district we have before continuing to form opinions about the education of our students and the character of our leaders.”
The response continues with an expression of offense to the way the team was supposedly treated at Walt Disney World because of the performance. It reads:
“I am extremely proud of our students and the traditions that we have shared here at PNG for many generations, and terribly disheartened by the disrespect with which they were treated at Walt Disney World in Florida. We will continue to live by our values of Honor, Pride, and Tradition which have paved the way for us to become a highly successful school district in the State of Texas.”
According to Disney, the performance at Magic Kingdom on Tuesday was different from the performance on an audition tape the school initially sent to Disney.
Following outcry after the performance, Jacquee Wahler, a spokeswoman for Disney, released a statement that read:
“The live performance in our park did not reflect our core values, and we regret it took place. It was not consistent with the audition tape the school provided and we have immediately put measures in place so this is not repeated.”
At this time, Disney has not detailed measures to be put into place in response to the performance.