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A school district in Indiana is reviewing its Indian moniker after a TikTok of the mascot went viral.
Anderson School Corporation made the decision to review the mascot after amid criticism to a viral TikTok video showing a high school basketball game ritual where two students dress up as an Indian chief and maiden, doing a ceremony performance with a pipe and dance, according to Fox 59.
Sarah Holba took the video prior to the basketball game and said that while she was disappointed, it wasn’t surprising.
“It was disappointing, but not surprising that it was happening,” Holba said.
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More than 700,000 people have watched the TikTok video so far, and the post has received more than 150,000 comments.
Holba said that when she asked how long this tradition has been going on, others told her it has been going on for a long time.
“The Anderson student section got really into it. You had the pep band playing,” Holba said. “I asked some people around me who said ‘oh, Anderson has been doing this forever.'”
In response, according to the report, the Anderson School Corporation Superintendent said that the pre-game ritual is being suspended, and said that an internal committee has been formed to review the mascot’s usage throughout the system. It will also seek input from leaders from the Native American community before arriving at a decision.
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“We’re taking this very seriously,” Superintendent Joseph Cronk said. “You know it’s always our intent to honor our Native American tradition and maybe that was ignorant. Maybe we don’t know what we’re honoring. Maybe we’re not honoring at all.”
The Anderson School Corporation used the mascot with the blessing of Chief William Anderson’s ancestors, according to Cronk.
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Rachel Thunder, director of the Indiana and Kentucky Chapter of the American Indian Movement, told the news outlet that the tradition incites a dangerous environment.
“It really incites an environment that is hostile, that is dangerous and damaging,” Thunder said. “They teach non-native children that it’s acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior and perpetuate inaccurate misconceptions.”