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Native American student group accuses Polynesian dance group of ‘appropriating Hawaiian and Tahitian culture’

‘There is no room for compromise’

An “all-female Polynesian dance group” at Yale University stands accused of “appropriating Hawaiian and Tahitian culture,” with a campus Native American student organization demanding that the dance group disban.

This past weekend the Association of Native Americans at Yale criticized the dance group, known as Shaka, for “sexualizing and homogenizing Native [American] peoples, misrepresenting and erasing histories and political realities, and attempting to depoliticize inherently political culture and communities under colonial subjugation,” according to The Yale Daily News.

The Native American group also distributed a flyer stating that the members of the Polynesian dance group are “not Native Hawaiian or Polynesian” and thus cannot “‘claim to do Native cultural practice’.”

“ANAAY’s condemnation of the dance group,” The News reports, “is the latest development in a relationship between the two groups that has become increasingly fraught over the past few years. ANAAY President Alanna Pyke ’19 (Kanien’kéha) said the group has tried to meet with Shaka to voice their concerns several times over the past two years to no avail.”

From the report:

Founded four years ago, Shaka identifies their styles of dance performance as Tahitian and Hawaiian. And whereas hula kahiko is a traditional style of hula, there is also hula ‘auana, a modern style of hula that developed over the course of colonial rule in Hawaii. According to their statement, Shaka performs only hula ‘auana because the group recognizes the special meaning of hula kahiko. The group also performs Ori Tahiti, a Tahitian dance, but the group said it only dances in that style to songs whose meaning it has researched or learned from instructors.

In an email to the News, Shaka said it has been working to coordinate a meeting with ANAAY since mid-October in order “to provide space for a productive discussion.” Shaka also noted in a statement responding to posts by individual members of ANAAY on Friday that its leadership has met with concerned students in the past and anticipates a meeting with ANAAY in mid-December. The group also pushed back against the argument that practicing Polynesian dance necessarily constitutes cultural appropriation.

“Anyone who is genuinely interested should be able to dance [in Shaka] so long as they are committed to respecting the cultures we share,” Shaka wrote in a statement Friday on its Facebook page.

According to The News, the Association of Native Americans at Yale believe that “not only that Shaka is appropriating Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, but also that it is misrepresenting those cultures and revitalizing harmful tropes in their performances.”

On the matter of this alleged cultural appropriation, the Native American group stated bluntly: “There is no room for compromise.”

Read the whole story here.

MORE: U. Texas ‘studies’ prof says ‘cultural appropriation’ is like theft of intellectual property

MORE: Ahead of Halloween, universities nationwide tell students what not to wear

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Add to the Discussion

  • Lou Sander

    It may be that the colonial masters made a big mistake when they failed to stamp out these cultures. If so, shouldn’t their descendants be made to pay for their error?

  • amongoose

    Does the same pertain to you? When will you stop “appropriating” the white culture like automobiles, electricity, refrigeration, the internet, iphones, and the rest of modern civilization GIVEN TO YOU by us evil whites.

  • Marty4650 .

    I see…. so from now on, only Russian girls can dance ballet. And white people will be banned from playing jazz music….

    Just one question. When black girls wear Hindu girl’s hair does that count as “cultural appropriation?”

  • Alan_McIntire

    What say would an American Indian/American Aborigine have in the matter of somebody appropriating POLYNESIAN culture? American Indians are not Polynesians.

    As an aside, I HATE that term, “Native American”. I, my children, and hundreds of millions of others in this country are by definition “Native American”, having been born in the US. My wife, on the other hand, was born in the Philippines, and is a “Naturalized American”.

  • SuperSpeller

    That they have appropriated MY culture, I take umbrage at their protest. How dare they speak English, wear western clothing, and attend a European-type institution of higher learning! THIEVES!!

  • JonathanJennings

    ANAAY really needs to stop issuing press statements in English; such blatant cultural appropriation.

  • Titus Andronicus

    Too much time on their hands. They should try appropriating a physics textbook – it would take their minds off perceived slights and injustices.

  • TxMedRgr

    This why they do not want more Asian students at the Ivy Leagues; the Asians are too busy studying STEM subjects for this type of nonsense.

    • Carrie Kube

      Granted Asian SJWs can be pretty bitchy as well.

  • Jake Szeuwe

    These SJWs are attacking the hula now. They are coming for our Tiki lounges next.

  • David Bradshaw

    hmm…didn’t the SS demand cultural and racial purity ?

  • gmartinz

    Again,I ask the question, exactly how many Native Americans are there attending Yale University? And how many of them came from reservations? I know the answer to the second question: NONE.

  • MEK_93

    Snowflakes never actually listen to themselves, do they?