Cedar City school scraps dance routine tribe considers offensive
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CEDAR CITY — A drill team at a southern Utah high school scrapped a Native American-themed dance routine that featured wigs, sparkly costumes and feathered headbands after tribal criticism.
The performance disturbed a number of members of the Paiute Tribe, including families of children who attend Cedar High School, whose mascot is the Redmen, tribal council Chairwoman Corrina Bow said.
The routine performed at a basketball halftime show is an imitation that misrepresents a traditional dance known as the "Butterfly Dance" or "Graceful Shawl Dance," Bow said.
Leaders of the drill team intended to honor Native American culture, Iron County School District Superintendent Shannon Dulaney said Wednesday.
They met with tribal leaders before creating the choreography, attended a tribal gathering and talked with a Native American woman who made some of the costumes, Dulaney said.
The drill team thought it had the tribe's support but now realize that was a misunderstanding, the superintendent said.
The tribal council met with the drill team last April but expressed concerns and specifically cautioned against using headdresses, eagle feathers, face paint or wigs because those items would be offensive, Bow said.
Tribal leaders asked to preview any routine before it was performed, but that didn't happen, she said.
"There was a tremendous missed opportunity for the drill team," Bow said in a statement.
The school in Cedar City has long had a positive relationship with the tribe and is working to continue it, Dulaney said.