Skip to content

Blood Tribe chapter at Unity Round Dance following incident of cultural misappropriation

The co-chair of The Council of Canadians Blood Tribe chapter Kimberly Weasel Fat invited APTN to the Blood Tribe/Cardston community for a group discussion on cultural misappropriation and how to start the steps towards healing historical traumas.

The Council of Canadians Blood Tribe chapter was at a Unity Round Dance / Peaceful Awareness Campaign event on February 18 after an incident of hurtful cultural misappropriation.

The Facebook outreach for the gathering highlighted, “The unfortunate recent events surrounding a photo on social media from a local Theater Company, and the apology that has followed, present an opportunity to gather peacefully to share a message of unity. This is an open invitation and everyone is welcome to attend. This is not a protest but a chance for us to come together in understanding. We know from experience the negativity that arises on social media and this event will strive to counter this with positive messages. Therefore, we ask for signs to reflect Unity, Respect and Cultural Awareness. Traditional dress is encouraged (but is not required).”

The Lethbridge Herald reports, “Members of the Blood Tribe [which is located about 224 kilometres south of Calgary] held a unity rally on Saturday to raise awareness over the issue of cultural misappropriation after a photo from a recent production of ‘Peter Pan’ was posted online by the Carriage House Theatre in Cardston [a Mormon community about 40 kilometres south of the reserve]. The event took place in the Moccasin Flats Plaza, and was organized by Communities in Unity, members of The Council of Canadians (Blood Tribe Chapter) and Idle No More Blood Tribe.”

That article highlights, “The Carriage House Theatre presented ‘Peter Pan’, which ran from February 9-18. When a photo was posted showing white actors dressed in stereotypical costumes as members of the indigenous Henny Penny Tribe, members of the Blood Tribe took issue with the image. ‘Peter Pan’ was written just after the turn of the 20th Century, making it more than 110 years old. It has been criticized for decades about its Victorian-esque portrayal of First Nations people through the Henny Penny Tribe that live in Neverland.”

APTN reports, “Blood Tribe members contacted the theatre company and asked for the play to be cancelled. Instead, the owner of Carriage House Theatre wrote an apology. The theatre removed the costumes but for the people of Blood Tribe they would have liked to see the play cancelled.”

Organizer Lori Brave Rock says, “If we weren’t dealing with this on such a regular basis, I don’t think the message is getting out there. And because it is a local play, I think it struck a lot closer to home. It’s something we’ve been dealing with on a regular basis [including with team names, sports mascots, and Halloween costumes]. Our clothing was one of the first things stripped away from us in residential schools. That identified who we were as a tribe, and who we were as individuals. Some of our garments were ceremonial so there was a high importance placed on them. Just the fact that here, in 2017, we are still dealing with racism on a daily basis. It’s time for things to change.”

An APTN National News video report on the issue can be seen here.

Another gathering is being planned in Cardston on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, to help build understanding and reconciliation.