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An 'offensive' high school teacher caught on video wearing a fake Native American headdress and waving air tomahawks has gone on leave

INSIDER logo INSIDER 10/23/2021 ydzhanova@businessinsider.com (Yelena Dzhanova)
The unnamed teacher is wearing a fake headdress while teaching her class. Instagram © Instagram The unnamed teacher is wearing a fake headdress while teaching her class. Instagram
  • A California teacher is on leave after a viral video showed her waving air tomahawks during class.
  • A Native American student in the class shot the video after he saw her pull out a fake headdress.
  • The John W. North High School called the incident an "offensive" display of Native American culture.

A California high school teacher has been placed on leave after an "offensive" portrayal of Native American culture in the classroom.

A video of the event posted to Instagram earlier this week went viral. In the video, the teacher who is unnamed is "war hooping & tomahawk chopping," the Instagram post says. A Native American student began filming in the class because he "felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record," said the Instagram account, which belongs to a woman named Akalei Brown who says she's acting as a spokesperson for the student's family.

A post shared by Akalei Brown (@corn_maiden_designs)

The teacher, employed by John W. North High School in Riverside, California, wore a fake headdress and made air tomahawks in front of her class, video shows.

"This student has a Native first name and outwardly identifies as Native American," Brown wrote in her post, urging social media users to contact school administrators to complain. "We need to end abuse & discrimination against indigenous youth in schools! There is no excuse for this type of behavior. We're not in the 1960s anymore, she should know better."


Video: Math Teacher Filmed Wearing Feather Headdress And Mocking Native American Dances (Newsweek)

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In a statement posted to its own Instagram page, the high school said the teacher has been placed on leave, but it's unclear whether that's paid or unpaid.

"These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices," the statement said. "Her actions do not represent the values of our district." The statement also urges students who feel they need support in light of the incident to reach out to school counselors.

A post shared by John W. North High School (@northhs)

There is an investigation of the incident pending, according to the school.

"We will be working with our students, families, staff and community to regain your trust," the school wrote in the statement.

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