California teacher placed on leave after video shows her imitating Native American dance, wearing headdress
A Southern California high school teacher has been placed on leave after a viral video posted Wednesday showed her wearing a fake Native American headdress while chanting and dancing.
The footage showed the teacher at John W. North High School in Riverside Unified School District donning a fake feather headdress while chanting “SOH-CAH-TOA,” a mnemonic for remembering a trigonometry principle. The teacher’s name has not been revealed.
Yesterday a Native American student filmed this video in his Math class. After several minutes of the teacher “war hooping & tomahawk chopping” the student began filming because he, “felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record.” pic.twitter.com/4zvFS6JfPw
— Iviviq ᐃᕕᕕᖅ ❄️ (@UrbanInuk) October 21, 2021
“These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,” the district said in a statement. “Her actions do not represent the values of our district.”
— Riverside Unified School District (@RiversideUSD) October 21, 2021
Laura Boling, president of the Riverside City Teachers Association, expressed disappointment over the situation.
“We care deeply about all our students and do not condone actions that alienate, hurt and threaten Indigenous students’ learning environment,” she said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Earlier this month, California became the first state to require an ethnic studies class to graduate high school. Jose Medina, a Democratic assemblyman in Riverside, authored the bill, according to USA Today.
“It is damaging and disheartening to see Native American and indigenous culture represented in such a trite and insensitive way,” Medina and other members said in a statement the news outlet reported. “This is not an isolated incident, as such teaching practices have been used across the nation. It is time that we stop this behavior.”