Riverside Teacher, Identified, Placed On Leave After Video Shows Her Mimicking Native American Dance


Photo Courtesy of Al Día News.

Candice Reed, a teacher from John W. North High in Riverside, California was placed on leave after a viral video taken by her student in math class shows her doing a “tomahawk chop” and hollering while wearing a mock Native American headdress. She also pretended to pray to the gods in what is being called a “dehumanizing” mockery of Native culture.

The video posted Wednesday showcases Reed chanting a “SOH CAH TOA,” a mnemonic device used to memorize trigonometric functions sine, cosine, and tangent. While she chanted, she jumped on furniture and danced around the room.

“It’s essentially mockery…racial mockery,” said James Fenelon, director of the Center for Indigenous People’s Studies at Cal State San Bernardino.

In response, the Riverside Unified District confirmed that one of the teachers seen in the video has been placed on leave while an investigation is conducted. The district has not however identified that teacher.

“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 district said.

According to CNN, the district noted its commitment to implement “inclusive practices and policies” and said that it will be working to try and regain the trust of the school community.

Founder and executive director of IllumiNative Crystal Echo Hawk called the Reed’s behavior “extremely disrespectful and unacceptable.”

In a statement, Echo Hawk said, “ “The behavior demonstrated by this California teacher is incredibly harmful to Native youth. We must set a higher standard of training for educators to prevent racism and discrimination from occurring in the classroom — especially by faculty.”

She added, saying that the incident was an example of “the need for cultural competency training for teachers” and “how underrepresented and inaccurate in classrooms across the country.”

On Thursday, October 28, a group of protestors stood outside of the school demanding for officials to take action and that Reed be fired from her job. According to ABC 7 News, the group also wants Reed to take accountability for her actions, but for the most part, they want her to take accountability by apologizing.

“She has yet to issue a public apology. She needs to apologize to all of her victims because this is emotional trauma, humiliation and disrespect,” said Betty Perez, a protestor.

Riverside teacher, in faux headdress, on leave after mimicking Native Americans in video - Los Angeles Times
Photo Courtesy of The Los Angeles Times.

Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) has yet to comment on the protest.