Native American says performance from Utah high school’s dance team mocked tribe’s culture

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CEDAR CITY, Utah -- A dance routine performed by a Utah high school drill team is getting backlash for its cultural insensitivity to Native Americans.

The video has amassed nearly 20,000 views after it was posted by a parent who saw the performance during a halftime show last week at Cedar High School--home of the “Redmen.”

“The outfits, the music, the way they were dancing, the feathers, the way they were wearing the regalia: I thought it was mocking Native American people rather than honoring them,” said Teyawnna Sanden, who is a member of the Paiute Tribe.

Dancing to drums with echoes of an eagle in the background, members of the Redmen's drill team were on the gymnasium floor wearing colorful feathers and braided wigs.

“It was a very awkward feeling," Sanden said. "It wasn't an honor for them to do that performance. It was disrespectful."

Sanden, a member of the Paiute Tribe, pulled out her phone when the performance began and started recording. See the embedded clips at the bottom of this post for footage of the performance from two angles.

“Think about something that is sacred to you," she said. "What is the most sacred thing to you? And to have that paraded around, and to make it feel mocked."

She posted the video on Facebook, calling the halftime performance offensive.

The Iron County School District says the drill team's coach met with the Paiute Tribal Council last year and discussed the possibility of doing the dance.

In a statement to FOX 13, the district writes “drill team leadership came away from the meeting with the understanding that full support had been given to the dance."

But the Paiute Tribal Council says that's not what happened. The council said they expressed deep concerns and asked to preview any routine before it was performed in public, but they said the drill team did not follow-up with them.

Teyawnna hopes to see changes to the school's mascot and more sensitivity toward her culture.

“When you have a mascot like Redmen, it is bound to bring that type of behavior again," she said. "It might stop now for the next year or month or two, but it will happen again because that's their mascot."

The school district says that dance will not be performed again, and they will be working with the Paiute Tribe to ensure a relationship of mutual respect and trust is reached.


  • Alyce Dixon

    You call squatting & twirling until your under pants are showing a beautiful dance? More like a prelude to learn how to be a good stripper which I’m sure would please ‘Seriously’ their depiction of of an ‘Indian’ dance reminds me of the way Indians were shown in the ignorant early days of Hollywood! HOW KEMOSABE! White man speak with forked tongue!

  • Common Sense

    Anyone who has ever been to a drill team competition would know that every school in the state does a “character” routine which depicts a certain character. One of the state champion teams danced dressed as Chinese people, in fact, the school this lady’s daughter goes to did their routine as African tribal people. I guess those groups better get offended pretty quick too. Oh and her daughter’s high school’s mascot is the Warriors, imagine that! This dance has undoubtedly been performed dozens of times throughout the year and we are just hearing about it now because this lady has decided to be offended?

    • clinttawes

      We don’t decide to be offended when our culture is mocked. We can’t stop caring about the sacredness of our culture. If a school group desecrated the American flag and patriotic students found it offensive, would you say they chose to be offended? Our culture is sacred to us, and we won’t sit by and say nothing while people hijack and defile it.


        Get over yourself Clinttawes. Nobody desecrated your flag. The real Indians from days now long gone were more mature and a whole lot less thin skinned.

  • Pamela

    I have lived in Roosevelt and have relatives that are “native Americans” but really aren’t we all? Anyway I feel this entire issue w the drill team is ridiculous. I’ve been to many pow wows and I fèlt the drill team routine was a lot like the dances thèy perform there. This lady has no REAL points. I think if these sort of issues keep rearing up. Thèn lets rid all of the schools and teams of ANYTHING pertaining to “native Americans ” all together. That way noone can be offended.

    • Kathleen

      That’s literally exactly what tribes want. You may not be suggesting it for the reasons natives hope you would, but it’ll do!

  • Brightpath

    This is a complete disgrace to our Native people along with the mascot of Cedar City High. They need to change the Redmen name. 2016 and we still have these issues. This reminds me of last year when the Copper Hills cheerleaders dressed up as Natives with warpaint and all. Pathetic!


      Real Native Americans don’t spend their lives looking for offenses. They have more pride.


        The race card has been overplayed and no is longer credible. We didn’t buy it when a black man beat up a homeless man in Salt Lake City and we don’t buy it now. By the way honey, neither the courts nor the census bureau classified Indian Americans as a race. Get over yourself.


        Indians are not a race my dear child. They are an ethnicity. That would make people who tease you ethnic-istics. They are the worst kind.


        Howling at the moon is counterproductive. You take yourself far more seriously that the rest of your tribe does my dear.

  • FinnyWiggen

    Somebody call the waaaambulance…

    You do yourself no favors by choosing to be offended.

    Enjoy the performance, and grow up!!


    Little people spend their lives looking for something to be offended over. You won’t find that weak quality if mature adults.

  • liberalssuck

    Yeah sorry,but I don’t see anything disrespectful except some moron looking to create an issue where their is NONE.Get over it!!! This PC sh** has to stop.It started with obamas presidency and needs to stop……PERIOD.
    It has run amok.Cries of racism around every corner,cries of racism EVERYWHERE……
    Lets change any and all names with native american references,get rid of the confederate flag.Buck up people,grow a pair and get back to reality.And Teyawnna find something more constructive to do with your time.

  • Mimi

    I’m really sure they all got together and decided, “hey, how can we make fun of Native Americans in our dance?” I mean, really?? Go cry me a river. Really hate it when people get offended so easily.

  • bob

    Since any individual can choose to be offended by anything, it stands to reason that TRUE “offense” is in the intent of the speaker.

  • bob

    Would all you white hand-wringers be equally offended if the mascot was a Scotsman and the cheerleaders dressed in kilts?

  • Indigenous

    Cultural insensitivity at its finest, or WORST?? all you hillbilly, non native, white washed, culturally bleached, money hungry, greedy, culturally sick in the head SOB’s are the epitome of IGNORANCE!! RESPECT-LESS classless fear mongering cowards!! you all are way more lost then the lost loser who initially brought you all over here 500+ years ago!! you all seriously should find your way back to the countries you and your forefathers illegally immigrated here from!!


      Long live Christopher Columbus. And no, I don’t think the Goshute Indians should allow their land to be turned into a dumping ground for high level nuclear waste. Don’t they have any pride?

      • Brightpath

        Long live Eric who told the Goshutes no and they listened to him. So no to them and yes to Dugway. If the whiteman does it then it’s okay. Great!


        The Goshute Indians were willing to allow their land to be poisoned in return for financial reward. Translation: The integrity of the American Indians has a price tag.

  • Jeff

    Hey, Teyawann, your daughter is a Snow Canyon Warrior. Have you looked at their mascot lately? Why don’t you work on getting their mascot changed while your at it. You also forgot to mention that Cedar High drill team paid people in the Paiute tribe thousands of dollars to make the outfits that you are so offend by. Many of the dance moves where taught to the drill team by Paiute people. Maybe you should be a little more info before you shoot you mouth off.

    • Brightpath

      Hey Jeff, Yes she does so Snow Canyon better toe the line and learn something from this incident. There is a reservation right next to them so they better be careful or else the Natives may jump the Rez and invade Ivins and Santa Clara. Take back their land wouldn’t that be a sight.

  • Chareese Banto

    I graduated from Cedar High School, I was a proud member of Mohey Tawa for 3 years, I remember the constant microscope we were under for calling oueselves the Redmen. What you ignorant bigots dont understand is that the dances and ceremonies practiced by Native American people are their religious beliefs and not a joke or something to be poorly imitated. You wouldnt like it if a dance team went out on the floor dressed up like the quarm of the twelve and preformed a dance meant to immitate a temple sealing ceremony, baptisim or blessing!!!! This is not a “people are too sensitive” issue. This is a have some damn respect for a culture and religion you know nothing about issue. Its obvious that each and every one of these girls worked extreemly hard and did not have malicious intent behind their preformance, but their advisor was asked by the Paiute Tribe to allow them to approve the dance before preforming it and she did not follow through. This is on the advisor for allowing this to happen!!!!


      The man who was blind in his left eye looked at the man who was blind in his right eye with contempt and rejoiced over his superiority.


    Peop;e suffering from low self esteem issues find it helpful to look down their noses at others. It helps remind them of their superiority when compared with the inferiority of others. Stepping on others gives them a higher view of themselves. Right Brightpath?

  • A.M. Morning Star

    Everybody shift your thinking: If these same white kids had a black mascot and pretended to be black, wearing African regalia, dancing, holding spears, and wearing full black-face, would THIS be honor? Of course not. Then, tell me: When is it right to portray Indians in the exact same manner?


      People with pride and dignity don’t spend their time looking for reasons to be insulted. The really intelligent ones see the rose while the slow and dumb witted search out the thorns. I suspect that A.M. Morning Star is suffering the temporary effects of PMS.


      That’s no way to talk about A.M. MORNING STAR and BRIGHTPATH Roger. I may not agree with them but I don’t believe they are dirty scums.


    How come it took whitemen to tell the Goshutes we wouldn’t allow them to pollute their reservation with nuclear waste. Don’t they have any pride?

  • Cynthia Emery

    Insensitive and rhoughtless. Indians are not mascots and our dances have meaning. Good to hear the HS will stop performing their recreation that dishonors all cultures.

  • Cary

    The whitest people in the room “We don’t know a damn thing about culture or diversity, but let us butcher yours in the name of education” Thanks for “whitesplaing” because it’s not like there’s a pow wow we hold in this town to actually teach people about that or anything!

  • keepitpcmerica

    I’m a drill team teacher for our local high school. I recently met with the elders quorum to plan our next halftime dance which will be called “weird Whiteface temple rituals. ” Our girls are going to be dressed up in Temple Garb with green aprons over their costumes and the boys will have one-piece white jumpsuits with pizza box looking hats on. They’ll have Green leaves over their crotches. One of our numbers will be called “disrobe while an old lady feels you up under your temple garb and blesses your fertility” and in another number the girls will be holding a rubber mallet and the background music will be called “what is wanted” after we make the Mormons look like complete idiots and demonstrate complete disregard for what they consider sacred rituals and they get upset, we’ll tell them all to “lighten up” and quit being so “politically correct.”


      You’re local high school doesn’t allow sexual deviates to be drill team teachers KEEPITPCMERICA.


      The only people that would be offended by your drill team day dream would be immature adults. In case you haven’t noticed mature adults don’t get suckered into being offended. Probably not a concept you’d be capable of understanding.


    What people like KEEPITPCMERICA are incapable of understanding is that mature people aren’t forced to find reasons to be offended. The famous indian chiefs of days gone by were much smarter than the mongrel dogs living on the resurvations today. How sad.


    Since I was born in California to parents that were both US Citizens that makes me officially an American native.

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