School considers 'Custer' performance
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OCTOBER 10, 2000

The Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, Washington, is one of the latest educational institutions reconsidering the portrayal of Native Americans in school activities.

But this time, its not a mascot or a logo raising concerns of school officials. Its a performance depicting the defeat of Lt. Col. George Custer.

The Battle of Little Bighorn stands out in the minds of many because of the monumental defeat the Army suffered at the hands of Sioux, Cheyenne, and Crow warriors. Along with a mock trial of Custer, the 1876 battle was recently commemorated at the Little Bighorn Days in Montana.

The re-enactment there, however, was likely more authentic than the one being portrayed by the Lewis and Clark band. During half-time of school activities, the band performs a series of musical numbers in which students dress as Native Americans and perform a "war dance."

The act was recently performed during the half-time at a football game against Shadle Park High on September 28. A student of Shadle, Dylan Lodge, watched the performance and told The Spokesman Review it was "gaudy."

As a result, Lodge, a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe of Montana, complained to the school district. On Monday night, a district committee met to watch a videotape of the performance and consider the opinions of others.

Today, they expect to make a decision on whether or not to allow the performance to continue.

Schools around the nation continue to consider the use of Indians as mascots, logos, and in other portrayals. A mother of two Indian students recently filed a complaint with the US Department of Education over a skit performed by teachers at a school in Minnesota.

There, teachers dressed up as cowboys and Indians, vowing to send the "Indians" back to the "reservation." The videotaped performance was captured during a pep rally before a school in Erskine played the Red Lake Warriors, a team from the Red Lake Reservation.

Relevant Links:
Lewis and Clark High School -

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