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Clintonville cancels football, homecoming events in response to dance-off video

(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 4, 2019 at 11:38 AM CDT
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UPDATE 10/7:

Clintonville Public School District's superintendent says staff and students are moving forward after video of non-Native students doing a mock tribal dance was met with outrage on social media.

Fallout from the video led the district to cancel Homecoming events on Friday and postpone Saturday's Homecoming dance.

Superintendent David Dyb released a statement to Action 2 News saying the district is "reviewing and improving" its approach to diversity and cultural education.

FULL STATEMENT:

The video, shot by a student during a Homecoming week dance-off, went viral on Friday. Numerous Action 2 News viewers shared the video with us and asked for answers.

for our initial report on the controversy.

Some Native American tribes called the dance "disrespectful" and "racially insensitive."

Oneida Nation Vice-Chairman Brandon Yellowbird Stevens released a statement on the video saying the tribe is "insulted and disappointed that the Clintonville School District, staff and students and the community have depicted Native Americans in this disrespectful display of a pep rally."

"To have these symbols and depictions of this cultural history used in inappropriate ways and without an understanding of the cultural significance and history behind them is a practice that must stop," says Stevens.

The Ho-Chunk Nation condemned the video for "racially insensitive display by students at Clintonville's homecoming rally."

Action 2 News is following up on this story and will have reports Monday.

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INITIAL REPORT:

All Friday Homecoming events have been canceled in the Clintonville Public School District in response to a dance-off video that has been criticized as offensive to Native Americans.

The Homecoming football game and Saturday's homecoming dance are among the canceled events.

Superintendent David C. Dyb cites "student safety concerns" for canceling the school dance. He says that will be rescheduled.

Dyb made the announcement in response to furor over the video that shows students at the "Homecoming dance-off" appearing to take part in a mock tribal dance set to Native drumming.

Dyb released this statement to Action 2 News:

Oneida Nation Vice-Chairman Brandon Yellowbird Stevens released a statement on the video saying the tribe is "insulted and disappointed that the Clintonville School District, staff and students and the community have depicted Native Americans in this disrespectful display of a pep rally."

Clintonville High School Principal Kelly Zeinert addressed the school Friday and explained the decision to cancel events. Video of her speech was shared with Action 2 News. "I'm here to tell you that if we were to hold these events, it would become a circus because of protesters, who as I said before, feel that the students here at Clintonville High School are racist," Zeinert says. She says they would also turn on her because they believed she allowed the dance to happen.

Action 2 News spoke with the student who shot the video, which was later shared on social media by his mother. He did not want to go on camera or be identified. He did give us this statement: “I recorded the video, but I don’t think the gentlemen should be punished for it. It’s Homecoming week and they wanted to entertain people. But I do understand where people are coming from. I just feel like they shouldn’t get anymore hate from this incident.”

As a precaution, district officials put the elementary, middle and high schools on student hold, where no students were allowed outside the building during the school day.

Students were also asked by staff at an assembly to not share the video anymore.

"We want to make sure our students are using social media appropriately in a context, obviously this is something that's not reflective of us as a school district, nor do we want to be reflective of anything that represents any kind of diversity or culture in an inappropriate way," said Dyb.

The Ho-Chunk Nation condemned the video for "racially insensitive display by students at Clintonville's homecoming rally."

The statement continues, "We are offering their leadership a conversation about the detrimental impacts of racism in our communities."

Superintendent Dyb says they will work with tribal communities and other community partners to address diversity.

"Having those that were involved understand the incident, to directly, understand the harm that was caused and what they can do to repair it. So, in a restorative sense, that's the approach that we will be taking," said Dyb.

Menominee Indian School District Superintendent Wendell Waukau also addressed the video, saying the district is "offended and disappointed by these disturbing events." Waukau says he has spoken with administration in the Clintonville School District and asked for an explanation and action.

"To have these symbols and depictions of this cultural history used in inappropriate ways and without an understanding of the cultural significance and history behind them is a practice that must stop," says Brandon Yellowbird Stevens of Oneida Nation.

Part of Stevens' statement on the Clintonville video addresses a Native American mascot resolution being passed by school districts in the state.

deemed offensive and disrespectful.

Clintonville's longtime team name is the Truckers. It does not have a Native American mascot.

"We encourage the Clintonville School District to join the other Wisconsin Tribes and schools to pass a resolution to ban racist mascots in our state. We extend an invitation to come to your school and share an educational experience with your staff and students," says Stevens.

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