Teacher Placed on Leave After Video of Her Dancing and Chanting in Headdress Goes Viral
A teacher has gone viral — and subsequently placed on leave at work — for wearing a Native American-esque headdress and chanting/dancing around her classroom.
A Native American student filmed the clips of his math teacher "war hooping and tomahawk chopping" during a lesson meant to teach the "SOHCAHTOA" mnemonic for remembering functions of sine, cosine and tangent. The student felt that "violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record.”
"Tomahawks, is that right?" the teacher can be heard saying in the first clip. In another clip, the teacher has seemingly drawn an image of a Native American wearing a feathered headdress on her projector. At one point in the footage, she points to her paper feather headdress and adds, "I get all of my feathers."
Another video shows her sitting cross-legged on her desk while she asks the "water goddess" for a "secret enchantment" before bursting out in laughter.
The incident took place at John W. North High School in Riverside, Calif. The teacher's identity has so far not been released.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the educator has been placed on leave following the offensive act of cultural appropriation and stereotyping. The superintendent also announced that they have officially launched an investigation into the incident.
“These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,” the local school district said in a statement.
Dee Dee Manzanares Ybarra, director of the American Indian Movement‘s Southern California chapter and tribal chair of the Rumšen Am:a Tur:ataj Ohlone, meanwhile told the outlet, “We’re tired of being made fun of. We’re not a joke. We’re not a costume.”