Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Sunday, September 21, 2003
Letter: Insensitivity shown at casino entertainment
I went to the Northern Lights Casino on Sept. 5 with friends to enjoy a night of karaoke. One of the contestants in the karaoke contest sang a song by Tim McGraw titled, "Indian Outlaw." This song itself has been labeled controversial and some radio stations refused to play it. I didn't really object to the singing of this song, but I did object to what happened during the performance.
There were two Caucasian men who were jumping around and whooping and acting like overgrown Boy Scouts (you know … when the Boy Scouts play dress up, and try to dance like Indians). There were several native people present and one of the ladies went over and voiced her displeasure at this scene. To which the men started whooping even more and hollering, "get over it."
I could not believe that such a blatant display of racism was met with total complicity by the majority of the people there. This is an Indian-owned and operated establishment. When people walk in the door, they expect to be treated with respect and dignity. I was totally offended and appalled by the actions of these individuals. But no one, not even the management, said a word about this.
When my friend complained, one of the managers told her "it's not a bad song." When she complained to the man who owns the karaoke and asked him to take the song off the list, he said he couldn't do that. So I am assuming that as long as you keep putting your money in those slot machines and buy alcohol at their bar, you can say pretty much what you want about Indians and make fun of them all you want. Sure, go right ahead … nobody is going to ask you to leave.
I say shame on you, Northern Lights, for allowing this incident to happen. For allowing your guests to make fun of your own people, on their own homeland. I say shame on you, all the people who were there and witnessed this event, for doing nothing and saying nothing. Shame on you, Indian people, for hanging your heads and not speaking up. And shame on the people who were directly involved in this.
Someone said, "well, they are drunk." Well, the last time I checked, being drunk is not an excuse for any kind of intolerable behavior. By the way, the ladies who protested this act were not drinking. Kudos to the native woman who refused to sign after that, I guess she did not want to be guilty of complicity or compromise her values.
The song "Indian Outlaw" debuted long before the Stereotype of the Month contest began, or it would be an entry. Its problem is summed up by its title: Indians as outlaws. That notion is a variation of the Uncivilized Indians and Savage Indians stereotypes.
Note: The Northern Lights Casino is owned and operated by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
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