Queen’s Jubilee gets a lesson in cultural sensitivity

Leya Hale and her sister were among 11 American Indian dancers flown to England in May for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But as the Star Tribune’s Curt Brown reports, the trip had some royal bumps in it:

… the dream trip turned a bit nightmarish when they checked out the program that billed their act as “Cowboys and Injuns.” They would perform after a specialty rodeo act, with cowgirls doing roping stunts, and dance to canned, cliché Indian music plucked from old Western movies.

Hale gulped.

“We didn’t want to be disrespectful, but at the same time we had to do some educating,” said Hale, who has Dakota and Navajo roots.

They met with show producers, whose manager issued a formal apology and agreed to let them dance to their own music, provided by North Dakota singer Jason Kingbird.

“Nowadays, people have information technology in the palms of our hands to look on YouTube and learn about other communities,” Hale said. “We found it ironic that old stereotypes live on in today’s time.”

You can read about the rest of Hale’s trip, including her sister’s visit with the Queen, here.

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