Disney World Apologizes For School’s Controversial Performance

Disney is under heat after a high school drill team's controversial performance at Disney World.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Disney finds itself in yet another scandal, this time regarding a high school performance within the most magical place in the world. Video footage of the Port Neches-Groves High School drill team performing at Disney World on March 15th has gone viral, and not for good reasons. Now, Disney has apologized for the school’s performance, as it draws a wide array of criticism regarding another heated topic within education: Should schools rebrand logos and mascots aimed at Native American culture?

On March 15h, the Texas-based High school cheer team composed of all-female “Indianettes” performed during a Disney World parade on Main Street. The girls wore fringed purple and white costumes and performed dance moves reminiscent of those seen in Native American cultures. But the high school students didn’t just impose Native American culture through dance moves, they also chanted out racially-driven war cry’s, shouting “scalp ‘em Indians, scalp ‘em,” repeatedly throughout the Main Street performance. 

Americans across the nation have spoken out with extreme anger over the performance at Disney World. Tara Houska, an Ojibwe tribal attorney and former advisor to Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted the video. In her Tweet, Houska called out the school and any possible Native Americans who attend the Texas school saying that they should accept their classmate’s dehumanization of the culture calling out the traditional aspect that many school districts stave off changing such practices often cling to. 

Kelly Lynne D’Angelo, a writer on TNT’s Miracle Workers retweeted Houska’s post and added her disdain that the majority of people shedding light on similar racial matters involving Native Americans tend to be those who identify as such. She ended her outraged tweet at the Disney World performance asking for schools to “stop this and grow up.”

Disney World apologized for the school performance in a statement to Deadline. In the message, Disney spokesperson Jacquee Wahler addressed the performance as not being reflective of the company’s core values, saying they regret the performance took place. Moreso, Wahler suggested that the High School performed a different routine than what they presented to Disney in their audition tape. Disney also made it clear in their statement that they immediately put new measures in place to ensure further incidents never happen again.

According to DailyMail, last week’s performance by the Port Neches-Groves High School drill team at Disney World marked the team’s eighth appearance within Disney Parks. Similarly, local Texas news outlets reported that Disney World representatives asked the girls to remove their war bonnets right before the performance started. This has led many to speculate that Disney may have actually known how the performance was going to go beforehand. 

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The controversial performance at Disney World draws more attention to a recent happening within schools across the nation. Over the last decade or so, there has been an outcry by many to change school mascots that derived from Native American imagery as it has been largely dubbed derogatory. In recent years, the decision to change professional franchises like the Washington Commanders (formerly Redskins) and the Cleveland Guardians (formerly Indians) has pushed the movement further. However, the nation is still riddled with high schools that appropriate similar Native American derogatory logos and mascots.