Denver police remove non-native woman from a native powwow after dancing around with sacred regalia

A non-native woman in attendance at a powwow in Denver was removed by police after she was caught on camera dancing around with a Native American’s sacred regalia without permission. 

Like many others who were outraged at the seemingly thoughtless behavior of the woman, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an associate professor of Native American Studies and Political Science at Metropolitan State University of Denver, saw video of the display on Twitter.

‘My initial reactions were anger and horror,’ Weiden told NBC 9 News.

‘Common sense should dictate when you’re in a sacred place, you don’t just walk up and grab someone’s sacred regalia and start dancing around with it and making a mockery of it.’

The member of the Sicangu Lakota nation said a powwow should be treated like any other religious or sacred ceremony, and while visitors are welcome, non-natives should ‘Let modesty and respect be your guide.’ 

A Native American in attendance approached the woman and stopped the inappropriate behavior before she was ejected from the 45th annual Denver March Powwow at the Denver Coliseum on Sunday.

The video of the woman creating a mockery of a bustle, a sacred item made with feathers that is a traditional part of regalia worn by Native American dancers, was shared by many people.

One of those people was a pharmaceutical chemistry and political science student with the username ‘@Ms_Yellowhorse.’

The user wrote, ‘I’m at Denver March Powwow and a nonnative woman took a piece of a dancer’s regalia, put it on, and started dancing around in it. She was rightfully kicked out, but I want to be clear that being respectful of our spaces is necessary.’

In a second tweet, the user included a video of the woman dancing with the regalia, writing, ‘Just a PSA: don’t do what this lady did.’ 

A non-native woman in attendance at a powwow in Denver was removed by police after she was caught on camera dancing around with a Native American's sacred regalia without permission (pictured)

A non-native woman in attendance at a powwow in Denver was removed by police after she was caught on camera dancing around with a Native American's sacred regalia without permission (pictured)

A non-native woman in attendance at a powwow in Denver was removed by police after she was caught on camera dancing around with a Native American’s sacred regalia without permission (pictured)

A pharmaceutical chemistry and political science student with the username '@Ms_Yellowhorse' tweeted the video writing, 'I’m at Denver March Powwow and a nonnative woman took a piece of a dancer’s regalia, put it on, and started dancing around in it. She was rightfully kicked out, but I want to be clear that being respectful of our spaces is necessary.'

A pharmaceutical chemistry and political science student with the username '@Ms_Yellowhorse' tweeted the video writing, 'I’m at Denver March Powwow and a nonnative woman took a piece of a dancer’s regalia, put it on, and started dancing around in it. She was rightfully kicked out, but I want to be clear that being respectful of our spaces is necessary.'

A pharmaceutical chemistry and political science student with the username ‘@Ms_Yellowhorse’ tweeted the video writing, ‘I’m at Denver March Powwow and a nonnative woman took a piece of a dancer’s regalia, put it on, and started dancing around in it. She was rightfully kicked out, but I want to be clear that being respectful of our spaces is necessary.’

In a second tweet, the user included the video of the woman dancing with the regalia, writing, 'Just a PSA: don’t do what this lady did'

In a second tweet, the user included the video of the woman dancing with the regalia, writing, 'Just a PSA: don’t do what this lady did'

In a second tweet, the user included the video of the woman dancing with the regalia, writing, ‘Just a PSA: don’t do what this lady did’

The video shows the woman wearing the regalia on her back

The video shows the woman wearing the regalia on her back

With the sacred bustle on, she hops around, bending at the waist at times

With the sacred bustle on, she hops around, bending at the waist at times

The video shows the woman wearing the regalia on her back and hopping around, bending at the waist at times

The video shows the woman wearing the regalia on her back and hopping around, bending at the waist at times.

As a man named Chad Browneagle eventually comes toward her, she takes off the regalia and extends it toward him.

‘I noticed she untied somebody’s bustle and had it around her neck, and I was like, “What? Whoa.”‘ Browneagle said. 

‘As soon as she [saw] me, she took off the bustle really quickly,’ he said. ‘I said, “Hey, don’t be like touching people’s stuff. It’s not yours.”‘

The woman was quickly stopped by another Native American, Chad Browneagle (pictured), who told her not to touch things that didn't belong to her

The woman was quickly stopped by another Native American, Chad Browneagle (pictured), who told her not to touch things that didn't belong to her

The woman was quickly stopped by another Native American, Chad Browneagle (pictured), who told her not to touch things that didn’t belong to her

As Browneagle tells the woman to leave things that aren't hers alone, he then takes the bustle and ties it on the railing nearby

As Browneagle tells the woman to leave things that aren't hers alone, he then takes the bustle and ties it on the railing nearby

The woman watches for a moment, then awkwardly dances a bit more before returning to standing idly by

The woman watches for a moment, then awkwardly dances a bit more before returning to standing idly by

As Browneagle tells the woman to leave things that aren’t hers alone, he then takes the bustle and ties it on the railing nearby. The woman watches for a moment, then awkwardly dances a bit more before returning to standing idly by

As Browneagle tells the woman to leave things that aren’t hers alone, he then takes the bustle and ties it on the railing nearby.

The woman watches for a moment, then awkwardly dances a bit more before returning to standing idly by.

Responses to the video of the woman’s behavior were swift and decisive.

‘This is an adult. She should know better,’ a Twitter user identified as Allen Turner said.

‘Does she go to church and start playing with stuff on the altar? To a restaurant and play with other people’s food? To concert and start playing with the instruments on stage? C’mon now! GTF outta here with that nonsense!’

Responses to the video of the woman's behavior were swift and decisive. A Twitter user identified as Allen Turner said. 'Does she go to church and start playing with stuff on the altar? To a restaurant and play with other people's food? To concert and start playing with the instruments on stage? C'mon now! GTF outta here with that nonsense!'

Responses to the video of the woman's behavior were swift and decisive. A Twitter user identified as Allen Turner said. 'Does she go to church and start playing with stuff on the altar? To a restaurant and play with other people's food? To concert and start playing with the instruments on stage? C'mon now! GTF outta here with that nonsense!'

Responses to the video of the woman’s behavior were swift and decisive. A Twitter user identified as Allen Turner said. ‘Does she go to church and start playing with stuff on the altar? To a restaurant and play with other people’s food? To concert and start playing with the instruments on stage? C’mon now! GTF outta here with that nonsense!’

'So disrespectful, this is infuriating,' wrote Twitter user '@WildWinyanlys'

'So disrespectful, this is infuriating,' wrote Twitter user '@WildWinyanlys'

‘So disrespectful, this is infuriating,’ wrote Twitter user ‘@WildWinyanlys’

‘So disrespectful, this is infuriating,’ wrote Twitter user ‘@WildWinyanlys.’ 

In contract, the Browneagle’s reaction was praised, although he was incorrectly assumed to be the dancer to which the bustle belonged.

A Twitter use identified as Apryl Allen wrote, ‘This is shocking! Impressed with the dancer… he handled the situation by respecting & honoring what was important!’

Some users called out the apparent white privilege at play, as the woman in the video appears to be Caucasian. 

‘Sometimes I really wonder what it must be like to be white and think every space is yours to act and be any way you choose. [flushed face emoji],’ wrote Twitter user ‘@DarkSkyLady.’ 

In contract, the Browneagle's reaction was praised, although he was incorrectly assumed to be the dancer to which the bustle belonged. A Twitter use identified as Apryl Allen wrote, 'This is shocking! Impressed with the dancer... he handled the situation by respecting & honoring what was important!'

In contract, the Browneagle's reaction was praised, although he was incorrectly assumed to be the dancer to which the bustle belonged. A Twitter use identified as Apryl Allen wrote, 'This is shocking! Impressed with the dancer... he handled the situation by respecting & honoring what was important!'

In contract, the Browneagle’s reaction was praised, although he was incorrectly assumed to be the dancer to which the bustle belonged. A Twitter use identified as Apryl Allen wrote, ‘This is shocking! Impressed with the dancer… he handled the situation by respecting & honoring what was important!’

It’s not clear why the woman was in attendance at the powwow, but non-native people are apparently welcome at this so long as they respect the space.

Weiden, who is an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation, explained appropriate guidelines for those wishing to attend a powwow, which is a sacred event.

‘You never take a photograph unless you ask first,’ Weiden said.

‘You do not enter powwow grounds until you’re allowed to do so on dance floor. There is something called an “inter-tribal,” where non-natives may be welcomed onto the dance floor to dance. But you do not do so until you’ve been invited. And you certainly never, never, never, never go and touch someone’s regalia and put it on. That is absolutely the worst thing ever.’

Weiden said a powwow should be treated like any other religious or sacred ceremony.

‘We are happy to share our culture with others,’ he said. ‘Let modesty and respect be your guide.’

Some users called out the apparent white privilege at play, as the woman in the video appears to be Caucasian. 'Sometimes I really wonder what it must be like to be white and think every space is yours to act and be any way you choose. [flushed face emoji],' wrote Twitter user '@DarkSkyLady'

Some users called out the apparent white privilege at play, as the woman in the video appears to be Caucasian. 'Sometimes I really wonder what it must be like to be white and think every space is yours to act and be any way you choose. [flushed face emoji],' wrote Twitter user '@DarkSkyLady'

Some users called out the apparent white privilege at play, as the woman in the video appears to be Caucasian. ‘Sometimes I really wonder what it must be like to be white and think every space is yours to act and be any way you choose. [flushed face emoji],’ wrote Twitter user ‘@DarkSkyLady’

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