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Claremont school Thanksgiving costumes create a commotion

Nearly two dozen protesters were stationed this morning in front of Condit Elementary School in Claremont, the site of a decades-old Thanksgiving tradition that is under fire because kindergartners dress up in handmade pilgrim and Native American costumes.

After a handful of parents complained that the Native American headdresses and vests were demeaning, cartoonish stereotypes, the Claremont Unified School District eliminated the costumes from this year's festivities, but allowed the turkey feast to go forward.

The protesters were evenly split between parents who supported the costumes and parents who opposed the outfits, and their discussion grew so heated that school officials called police, who separated the protesters on separate sidewalks, said Lt. Dennis Smith of the Claremont Police Department.

Police are also paying extra attention to Claremont schools Supt. David Cash's home, after he called police to report he was receiving hate e-mails and feared for his safety, Smith said. The e-mails did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution.

Cash and Condit principal Tim Northrop did not return phone calls seeking comment, but school employees reported that the commotion in front of the school was heated.

"It's been wild," said one woman who declined to give her name. Meanwhile, the kindergartners -- some of whom showed up wearing their banned costumes -- frolicked on the playground, eating, running and chattering with friends, Smith said. "The kids were oblivious," he added, "as they should be."

--Seema Mehta

Read the original story here.

Comments () | Archives (143)

Honestly, aren't there more pressing issues for people to debate than whether costumes can be for a kindergarten class Thanksgiving feast?

Here is a great opportunity to engage a local Native American tribal orangization to help educate what dress might have been like and emulate that (as close as a first grade class can do properly). And while you are at it, you can see how they feel about celebrating what we are calling Thanksgiving.

Why does it not surprise me that the only parents opposed to this are college professors?

As an observer who was there at the time, I feel compelled to correct a couple of inaccuracies in this account. Whatever one may think about the validity of their position, the fact is that the Native Americans were protesting very quietly and were calm and collected the entire time. The only "heated" interchanges I saw -- and I was right next to them -- consisted of pro-costume parents yelling angrily at the protesters. Also, the police separated no one. Mike Bateman, a school district official, asked the Native American protesters to go across the street, and they complied with his request before the police arrived. The pro-costume parents had set up a refreshment table directly in front of the school, and were allowed to maintain their presence there. Mr. Bateman told me he made his request because he didn't want students to hear the "discussion." In fact, there was no discussion; there were only angry parents yelling at the Native American protesters. It was only at the moment when one of the protesters quietly began to respond to a shouting parent that Mr. Bateman asked him to go across the street. "Discussion" over.

what is happening to this world? no more fun

PATHETIC -PATHETIC - PATHETIC These administrators are out of their mind, once again don't let the FACTs get in the way of history. These school officials have obviously forgotten that they work and live on the very land once walked on and "owned" by native Americans? Kinda hard to teach evolution and history when you haven't done either.

I'd like to add one more observation. Lt. Smith is correct in mentioning that the kids were oblivious. I'm not sure what he meant by saying "as they should be." For one thing, to see how adults behave when their emotions get the better of them can be very educational. In addition, to see how people in the minority are treated when authority sides with the majority against them is also very instructive. To see people try to exercise their right to protest, and to see what happens when they do, is also a great lesson. Perhaps an unfortunate but useful lesson would have been for the kids, right after their celebration, to watch some of their parents yelling at Native Americans, rather than trying to listen to why the Native Americans considered the costumery demeaning and offensive to them.

Anyone who would take away this innocent fun event from children is an inconsiderate irrational oversensitive bully and must be stood up to.

Hmmm.... If the Native Americans are complaining because it is demeaning, let the pilgrims dress and the Indians not dress. I hope the pilgrims don't get offended. I need to go gamble at Pechanga so I can give more money to Native Americans.

It's really a silly thing when one person complains and everyone else has to suffer. Especially since the kids already spent time making their costumes. It's a tradition about the past, it is no reflection on the present day Native American culture. What followed after the "First Thanksgiving" is nothing short of a holocaust with entire native american tribes being murdered and completely wiped out. But some how the purpose and spirit of Thanksgiving has to come through. The PC nature of college professors (as the woman who complained was) is off the charts to begin with, you can't talk sense to those people. She, instead, should have suggested that the kids add something to their costume that pertained to the native americans who lived in that area in that time. This could have made those non-descript native american costumes something more meaningfull and thoughtfull.

Right on Principal Northrop! Thanks for standing your ground on this. Is it deaming to dress like a Viking? A Roman? A knight in Shining Armor?An Aztec Warrior? A Pilgrim? Why is is suddenly bad and offensive to dress like a Native American from Northeast America 400 years ago? These Anti-Thanksgiving agitators are vomiting pure hatred and they are disgusting. They know better too, but live to hate America. I think they probably even hate themselves....

The last line of this article: "the kids were oblivious...as they should be" pretends to be a call to our common sense; but I wonder if we would have the same attitude if some crazy schoolmaster would organize a "frolicking on the playground" of kids dressed up with concentration camp customes and nazi regalia, or perhaps, of kids with traditional muslim customes and hindu dress. Would the author close his article with the same line?

The residents of Claremont need to get a grip! What horrible examples to set for the children.

What is really disgusting are the parents who protest these costumes and project their twisted political correctness into kids and idiotic costumes

Another example of political correctness run amok.

Lt. Smith, Superintendent Cash, principal Northrup and the "nearly" 24 protesters have better things to do with their time than worry about a bunch of 5-year-olds in made-up costumes. And if they don't, or can't think of any, I'd be glad to make some suggestions.

Start with, grow up.

Is this not crazy? Geez, before you know it the next thing to be complained about will be dressing up for Halloween followed by decorating Xmas trees and other assorted fun stuff I remember getting to do in school when I was a child. I'm glad the kiddos had a good time regardless of the protest outside. It's also crazy that the super is getting hate mail and fears for his safety over this. Just ridiculous!

Why not ban alll public celebrations because somebody might be offended? Even Fourth of July, because persons of British heritage could object.

I don't see how it's demeaning to recognize that Eagle feather headdresses were used (and of great cultural significance) by at least some Native American tribes. And you can't expect kindergarteners to have real ones instead of paper ones any more than you can expect them to sew their own pilgrim costumes. I don't see why it's demeaning to remember that the first Thanksgiving was one time when two cultures met for feasting instead of on the battlefield.

When the families that protested the simple fun of tiny children resume their normal lives and purchase Christmas Trees I'll arrange for Greenpeace and the Sierra Club to protest at their homes. Live balanced and fight for a better world.

Urgh. Political correctness is a disease. This is ridiculous.

I agree with Uh Ooo. Why not turn this into a positive discussion. These parents are setting a bad example for their kids.

It is true that the kindergarten/elementary version of Thanksgiving taught to children is shallow and full holes- historically speaking. Still, children can only grasp the most basic concepts at such a young age. The deeper, and sometimes uglier side of American history comes out in middle school and high school. Protesting costumes to the point where police needed to intervene is ridiculous. Bring in an expert to lecture to the students if necessary, but practice caution! The brutal realities of colonial life are not for the ears of 5-year-olds.

Political correctness is a mental sickness which tries to convince the world that a person or group's over-sensitivity is everyone else's problem. It's not.

P.C. out of control..ridiculous waste of time..no matter what the P.C. brigade says..kids will always..play cowboys and Indians..shoot each other with cap guns and fingers..mow each other down with toy uzi's..call each other bad names...spit at each other..and YES..GOD FORBID..DRESS UP AS PILGRAMS AND INDIANS>>FOR THANKSGIVING

I was at mountain view this morning. i say that if a parent doesn't want their child to participate in this, then KEEP THAT CHILD OUT. don't try and ruin it for all of the kids. my mom told me that one of the kids came home CRYING because he worked so hard on his costume and wasn't going to be able to wear it. this is innocent fun for them!!! it makes learning about the pilgrims and indians more fun for the kindergarteners!!

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