Port Neches-Groves’ performance at Walt Disney World reignites mascot controversy…

Graphic: Port Neches-Groves ISD

The Port Neches-Groves Band and Indianettes find themselves in the national spotlight, following their performance at Walt Disney World in Florida.

The Indianettes marched without their headdresses. In Native American culture, they’re actually referred to as war bonnets.

The PNG NDN Press posted the video of the school’s performance on Tuesday.

Reporters filed an open records request with PNG asking for the audition video. Port-Neches Groves Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier responded with the video. 

The Indianettes are not seen in the audition video, but the band’s drum majors were wearing headdresses.

According to Gauthier, the band started the application to perform at Disney in May 2021, and the application was approved on June 22, 2021.

Reporters followed up with Walt Disney World to ask for clarification on what specifically was missing from the audition video.

“The audition tape did not include the chanting behavior demonstrated at our theme park, which is what our statement was alluding to,” Disney Spokesperson Jacquee Wahler said.   

In the video of the parade members of the band can be heard chanting, “Scalp ‘em, Indians, scalp ‘em!”

The spokesperson went on to reaffirm what 12News was told by the school district, that the Indianettes were told on the day of the parade that they could not wear the headdresses.

“The headdresses were not permitted to be worn this week during the performance,” Wahler said.   

This decision surprised many parents and students because the band and Indianettes marched in previous parades at Disney as recently as 2020 in their full uniforms.

Even without the headdresses being worn, PNG’s appearance at Disney has led to new conversations about the district’s Indian mascot.

Many people on social media from all around the US have condemned the district’s continued use of the Indian as their mascot.

Wahler said this incident will change their policy.

“We are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our school district. Our district is nearing 100 years old and our board of trustees is committed to always making the best decisions for our students, staff, and the communities of Port Neches and Groves,” she said. 

In 2020, Disney introduced a fifth Key to its Cast Member Training Worldwide and that’s “Inclusion.” 

“We believe that a truly inclusive environment is critical to fostering ideas from all people to help us grow, innovate, and create the best stories possible,” Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro previously told several publications in 2020. 

In response to the criticism across the country, the district has deleted all of its’ social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. 

Written By: Jordan Williams and Lupita Villarreal for KBMT

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