Native Americans to protest burlesque show

Tonight Native Americans will gather at Ground Zero in Minneapolis to protest burlesque performer “Tomahawk Tassels,” a.k.a Amanda Riley.

For the last five years Riley has performed a burlesque number featuring her portraying a stereotyped Native woman, with long braids and a revealing outfit. Over the course of her act, she gradually takes off most of her clothing.


Image source: Facebook

This week she announced that due to protests she’s retiring her act, but is still keeping the name Tomahawk Tassels. And it’s under that name she’s scheduled to perform tonight and tomorrow in two Twin Cities burlesque shows.

Shannon Edberg is the organizer of tonight’s protest. In her call to action she writes “We’ve told her that her actions contribute to rape culture, yet she continues. Amanda has been asked for years to retire her racist burlesque character, but she’s still scheduling shows.”

“One in three Indigenous women is raped or subjected to sexual violence during her lifetime,” Edberg continues. “It’s time for us to stand up and we’re not going to stop until “Tomahawk Tassels” is retired.”

For her part, Riley says she was told her father was part Cherokee, but she was raised by her mother’s Irish Catholic family. She told Vita.MN that she gravitated to burlesque because she needed “a healthy avenue of sexual exploration and healing,” and that in her native Oklahoma “everybody’s Native. Native appropriation is everywhere. It’s not in a negative way, it’s supportive, whether or not we have tribal cards.” She has said she feels bullied by Native Americans asking her stop her act.