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Elementary school principal cancels 4th-grade 'Lewis and Clark' play over Native American 'cultural appropriation,' 'stereotypes'

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On the trail of Lewis and Clark, "Pow-Wow" Winnebago Indian Reservation in Nebraska, 1997. (Photo by Jean-Erick PASQUIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

An elementary school principal in Washington state canceled a fourth-grade "Lewis and Clark" play after receiving two complaints from parents and determining the script was guilty of "cultural appropriation" and "stereotypes" of Native Americans, conservative commentator Jason Rantz reported for KTTH-AM.

What are the details?

Principal Renee Rossman of Lowell Elementary in Tacoma told parents she was pulling the plug on the scheduled May 5 performance, Rantz said.

“It is essential that our school promote respect for all cultures and people. We must not perpetuate stereotypes or engage in cultural appropriation. After thoughtful consideration along with Racial Justice training at Lowell for all staff, I have decided to cancel the 4th-grade performance of Lewis and Clark,” Rossman wrote in the letter that Rantz said he obtained.

The play focuses on the famous expedition undertaken by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they “discover the Great Unknown West,” KTTH said, adding that the production reportedly depicts a “hostile encounter” with the Teton Sioux and includes Sacagawea, a Native American female who helped the expedition.

“I know students have been preparing and may feel disappointed, but we ask for your support as we take this time to reflect, learn, and revise our practices,” Rossman also wrote, according to Rantz.

The principal also said she won't schedule another play this school year, according to Rantz's KTTH piece.

There were no specifics offered regarding the concern about cultural appropriation, Rantz reported, adding that one parent believes there may have been a problem with white students depicting Native Americans.

'Didn't align with our values'

Rantz said a school spokesperson indicated that the move to cancel the play was done in consultation with district officials.

“After receiving complaints from parents about the play, the school and district reviewed the script," the spokesperson explained in an email to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. "The script contains cultural stereotypes that misrepresent the customs and traditions of Native Americans. We initially sought to revise the script but determined given the timeline it was not possible."

The spokesperson added that “as a district, we value cultural understanding and strive to create inclusive school environments, and ultimately the play didn’t align with our values," Rantz reported.

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