Earlier this week, the ‘Indianettes’ drill team from Port Neches-Groves High School in Port Neches, TX performed in the Magic Kingdom with a routine that featured racially insensitive imagery and chants. The routine, which was captured on camera by fans in the park and shared on social media sparked outrage by Guests, with many calling for Disney to address the issue and create a better system for vetting student groups ahead of their performances.
This afternoon, Scott Gustin shared that Disney spokesperson Jacquee Whaler released a statement saying, “We regret the performance took place as it did not reflect the audition tape that was submitted. We have immediately put measures in place to ensure performances reflect the auditions.”
The chant seen in the video was also not included in the group's rehearsal prior to their performance in the park.
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) March 18, 2022
Student groups who perform at Walt Disney World are required to submit an audition video, however, in the case of the Port Neches-Grove drill team, Disney notes that the routine seen in the audition did not match the performance that took place on Tuesday in the Magic Kingdom.
Prior to the performance, Disney did reach out to the school and let leadership know that the war bonnets, or headdresses, that are a regular part of the Port Neches-Grove drill team uniform would not be allowed during the performance. While the students complied with this rule, photographs were taken backstage prior to the performance showing a group in their full uniform, and during the performance members of the drill team still wore feathers in their hair (in addition to the fringe on their uniforms.)
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?
Shame on @DisneyParks hosting this. Nostalgic racism is RACISM. pic.twitter.com/ELsJHRgJlw
— tara houska ᔖᐳᐌᑴ (@zhaabowekwe) March 18, 2022
With a statement made on the issue, some fans have already taken to social media pointing out that either Disney could have vet the school in general, not just the audition tape (which would have shown how much the school inappropriately uses Native imagery and stereotypes in their community), while others wonder why Disney did not put an end to the performance in the park as soon as it became clear how offensive it was. Disney has seemingly noted that the “scalp ’em” chant seen during the in-park performance was not a part of the school’s audition, however, the chant can be found in videos of other events by the school with a quick online search.
Fans have been holding Disney accountable lately, especially with issues regarding race and the LGBTQ community, with many believing the company still has work to do to fully live up to its addition of ‘Inclusivity’ as the company’s Fifth Key.
Port Neches-Groves High School has performed at Walt Disney World multiple times in past years, and the school has not released a comment regarding the drill team’s most recent visit to the Magic Kingdom.