Story at a glance

  • The Transportation Security Administration is apologizing and says it must “learn from this” after the woman says she was dehumanized.
  • Indigenous rights activist Tara Houska tweeted about the incident that took place Monday morning during routine screening at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.
  • The TSA kicked off an investigation into the incident.

The Transportation Security Administration is apologizing to a Native American woman after she was reportedly humiliated by an agent during a security screening at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. 

Prominent attorney and indigenous rights activist Tara Houska said on Twitter Monday that as she was traveling back to Bemidji, Minnesota after attending a climate change rally in Washington, D.C., when a TSA agent said she needed to pat down her braids. 

The agent then proceeded to pull them behind Houska’s shoulders, laugh and say “giddy up!” as she snapped her braids like reins.

Houska tweeted to her more than 30,000 followers saying “My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your ‘fun’ hurt.” 

She claims that after she told the agent her actions and comments were offensive, the agent laughed and claimed to be kidding. Houska says she has no problem with hair pat-downs, but felt the TSA employee treated her like an animal. 

KARE 11 reports the federal security director of TSA in Minnesota acknowledged the mistake in an email to fellow employees Tuesday and said the agency must “learn from this.” Federal Security Director Cliff Van Leuven said he apologized to Houska for how she was treated. 

The TSA has launched an investigation into the incident and told Fox News that the agency “holds its employees to the highest standards of professional conduct and any type of improper behavior is taken seriously.”

Published on Jan 16, 2020