California Teacher Mimicking Native Americans Stirs Outrage

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A school district in Southern California has placed a teacher on leave after a video posted on social media showed her wearing a fake Native American headdress and mimicking indigenous dances during a classroom lesson.

The Riverside Unified School District said in a statement Thursday the behavior was “completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices.” The district said it values diversity, equity and inclusion and was investigating the incident, which drew widespread criticism after being posted a day earlier.

In the video, the teacher appears to be chanting, “SohCahToa,” a mnemonic device used to help remember trigonometric functions, as she dances and jumps around the front of the classroom, waving her arms in a chopping motion. The teacher is wearing a black and red feather headdress, and a black face mask.

District spokesperson Diana Meza did not name the teacher but said the video shows a female high school math instructor, who was teaching a trigonometry class, The Orange County Register reported. The teacher has been placed on leave, pending the district’s investigation. The video was taken by a student in the classroom.