Baker County High School, which is located in the greater Jacksonville are of Florida, has a history club. It recently hosted what it called a “PreK-Kindergarten Center Powow,” in an apparent effort to share “Native American culture with preschoolers.”
Video of the event illustrates more than a dozen white high school students in redface doing some bizarre yelling, while dozens of young children clad in construction paper headdresses look on. Baker County Press, a local weekly newspaper, published the video on YouTube with the following warning:
The BCHS history club’s attempt to expose Prek-Kindergarten Center students to Native American culture at a pre-Thanksgiving event on November 21. As you can read from the comments below, many Native Americans find the depiction historically inaccurate and offensive, as some may find the language in the comments below. Consider yourself warned.
Actual powwows, which are centered on dancing, are a rather new cultural phenomena for Natives–which makes the Baker High School’s historic emphasis that much more problematic. Powwows are intertribal events, and white folks are welcome to attend. Attendance is free, although donations are encouraged during the blanket dance (and Natives will be more than happy to explain this and a lot more to respectful non-Natives). Because Baker High’s students and their teachers never investigated this, however, the preschoolers will not understand much about powwows other than this racist and inaccurate depiction.