News & Politics

Native American Group Takes Issue With Yale Polynesian Dance Troupe

Photo by Sergi Reboredo/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

A Polynesian dance group at Yale University is under fire right now simply for existing. The group, called Shaka, is an all-female Polynesian dance troupe started four years ago at the university. Suddenly, the Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY) has decided it’s a significant problem.

Apparently, the group condemned 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.

Part of the problem for ANAAY is that a large number of the Shaka members aren’t Polynesian, thus it is unable to claim “to do Native cultural practice.” In other words, they can get everything else 100 percent perfect, but it will be offensive because of their DNA.

However, Shaka has tried to take sensitivity into account. As the Yale Daily News reported: “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.”

Shaka has reportedly been trying to work with ANAAY for some time to find a way to coexist, but since ANAAY has already said “there is no room for compromise,” there appears to be no use in trying.

The history of Shaka, however, is relevant. After all, it was founded by native Hawaiian Melia Bernal, who graduated earlier this year. Bernal told the Yale Daily News: “In founding Shaka at Yale, I had hoped to create an inclusive group in which native and non-native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander peoples could learn, be exposed to, and share aspects of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultures.” He went on to explain that: “ANAAY contends that only Native Hawaiians can participate in aspects of Hawaiian culture, excluding even non-Native Hawaiians who were born, have grown up in, and still live in Hawai’i … In contrast, Shaka takes pride in its members’ diverse backgrounds and promotes an inclusive environment that remains respectful to the practices of hula and Tahitian dance.”

None of that apparently matters when Leftism is involved. A handful of people claiming to be Polynesian are up in arms, and they make the whole thing difficult for those who are interested in learning about another culture.

Meanwhile, if everyone stops trying to learn about other cultures, these same people will get bent out of shape over that, too.