A Southern California school district is under fire after a video of a teacher wearing a headdress and mocking Native American traditions through song and dance went viral on social media.
An unidentified math teacher at Riverside Unified School District’s John W. North High School danced and chanted, “SohCahToa” in an attempt to “teach” her students the three main functions in trigonometry: sine, cosine, and tangent.
Native studies consultant and foster youth advocate Akalei Brown first posted the clip to her Instagram on Thursday. According to Brown’s post, a student who has a Native first name and identifies as Native American “felt that violence was being committed against him” as he watched his teacher’s attempt at “war hopping” and “tomahawk chopping.”
Riverside Unified School District announced the teacher had been placed on leave in a statement on Instagram. “A recording of one of our teachers has been widely circulated on social media,” the statement read. “These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices. Her actions do not represent the values of our district.”
The school district’s statement added, “The Riverside Unified School District values diversity, equity, and inclusion, and does not condone behavior against these values.
We are deeply committed to implementing inclusive practices and policies that honor the rich diversity of our district and the greater region. We will be working with our students, families, staff, and community to regain your trust.”