remove this offensive display from Sylvia Park
This petition had 1,406 supporters
"How can we be seen as modern, successful people if we are continually represented as the leathered and feathered vanishing race?" Matika Wilbur
I am a member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma living in Auckland, New Zealand, where I encountered this display at the Around the World Mini Golf establishment at Sylvia Park. The 'Native American Doll' is based off of the recent Disney reproduction of Tonto, who was styled after Ishichoshtupsh (aka Two Whistles) a crow warrior.
In it I see a grotesque caricature, more closely representing a neanderthal or walking dead character than a human being. I do not see myself. I do not see the vibrancy or potentiality of my heritage. Yet, this is what this display purports to depict. In response to requests to remove it, owners suggested that "The exhibit is there to illustrate some of the history of America", and that through this exhibit the mini-golf course is "paying respect to different parts of history throughout the world". I see no honour in this depiction. I see no honour in its place of display - amid inanimate objects and wild beasts. Native peoples are not relegated to the past, or to plastic displays in car-park mini-golf courses.
The fact that this has been seen as acceptable in the largest shopping centre in New Zealand highlights the dearth of cultural understanding in Auckland - a city which prides itself on diversity and acceptance. Irony. As a person of Kiowa and Tongan descent growing up in the middle class suburbs of Oklahoma I was very aware of how different I, and my family, were. In many ways moving to Auckland was a direct challenge to that context, despite the difficulty of being away from our people and our ways. To say that I am 'saddened' or 'upset' about this being the only depiction of Native people,in the city I choose to live in that my four month old son, or sixteen-month old niece will see is a gross understatement. That idea is wholly unacceptable.
The display is racially offensive, and needs to be removed.
I am grateful to the support of friends and loved ones stronger than myself, who have joined me in asking Around the World Mini Golf to take action, and remove the display, but we need more voices to our message. Management responded that the exhibit is not intended "to be racist in way shape or form", and that "if by any means our customers had given us that feedback we would have acted swiftly", however, "the complete opposite has happened."
Please help us send the message to Around the World Mini Golf that this is not ok.
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