A horse club that participated in the Rose Parade in California Friday received the blessing of the Idaho-based Nez Perce Tribe to dress as Indians, a representative of the club said.
But during an interview with ICTMN, a spokesman for the Nez Perce said the tribe never supported the horse club’s public display of cultural appropriation.
A spokesperson for the club who spoke to ICTMN on the condition of anonymity said the purpose of the clothing was to honor the Nez Perce, a tribe credited with developing and refining the unique Appaloosa breed.
The spokesperson claimed their attire was researched to be made as “authentically” as possible, and that they consulted with the Nez Perce and received their blessing.
Nakia Williamson, director of the Nez Perce Tribe Cultural Resource Program, said he is not aware of the Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club, and that as someone who practices many of the Nez Perce’s traditional ways, he would struggle with endorsing such a practice.
“There’s a lot of people that do something in the name of the Nez Perce that are not necessarily endorsed by the Nez Perce tribe,” Williamson said.
Williamson said it’s possible an individual of Nez Perce heritage gave the club its blessing, but added “I would probably know who they were,” he said.
During the broadcast of the parade, Native Americans on social media were swift to condemn the display.
“When there are so many fabulous indigenous dance groups, this is inexcusable,” Facebook user Lisa R. Weber wrote. Valerie Demaray commented on Facebook, “Why not get real Native Americans to be in the parade? That’s just pitiful.” Demaray added a crying emoticon to your post.
“The Native minstrel show at the Rose Parade by the Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club was just that, a minstrel show — white people dressed in red face,” Amanda Blackhorse, a citizen of the Navajo Nation and leading plaintiff in the case to strip the Washington Football Team of its federal trademarks, told ICTMN. Blackhorse was watching the Rose Parade when she saw the riders dressed as Native Americans.
“The [Rose Parade organizers] should’ve caught this and the NCAA football should denounce this disgusting act,” she said. “The group and the [parade organizers] must publicly apologize for this.”
The spokesperson for the Calizona Appaloosa Horse Club did not respond to follow-up questions concerning Williamson’s stated denial of the club’s claim.