Native American Student Records Teacher Wearing Headdress & Mimicking Indigenous Culture In Math Class

Photo: Riverside Unified School District / Instagram
John W. North High School math teacher Candice Reed

A Native American student was in class at John W. North High School in Riverside, CA when he noticed the teacher pulling out a fake feather headdress and decided to record what was about to happen.

Candice Reed has been teaching for at least 9 years and decided that she would perform an offensive dance and chant according to Native American stereotypes in order to teach trigonometry.

A teacher used offensive Native American stereotypes in order to teach trigonometry.

In trigonometry, a popular mnemonic device in order to remember how to solve equations for sine, cosine, and tangent, is SOH CAH TOA.

Contrary to a seemingly popular belief upon a Google search of “SOHCAHTOA Native American,” mnemonic device has absolutely no ties to Native American history and is just that — a means of learning.

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Reed, however, decided to go above and beyond by putting on a hand-made Native American headdress with fake feathers and began hooping and hollering all the stereotypes she knows of.

“SOHCAH - TOA,” she chanted as she went up and down the rows of the class — jumping on top of tables and at one point mentioning that she met “the rock god.”

At no point does any of that result in a conducive learning experience nor does it enhance the subject matter.

According to the report from the student, he began filming after several minutes of the teacher “war hooping & tomahawk chopping” because he, “felt that violence was being committed against him and he had the right to record.”

Not only that but on the board, Reed showed PowerPoint slides with stick figures that were meant to be Native Americans with headdresses next to rocks and teepee huts.

You can see from the video that the other students in the class are uncomfortable by the encounter as well, hiding from the person recording and some of them laughing uncomfortably.

The post was originally made public on the Instagram account of Akalei Brown, a Native American activist who shared the post in order to spread awareness and get the school to take action against the teacher.

“I am sharing this because these behaviors can no longer be swept under the rug,” she wrote in the caption. “As adults, we must stand up for our youth! Please help us in getting the word out and SHARE!”

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The student’s identity was kept anonymous, but she included the contact information of the school principal, the deputy superintendent, and several other members of the board of education.

The school apologized for Candice Reed's actions.

The viral success of the footage reached the Riverside Unified School District who issued a statement regarding the situation.

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“A recording of one of our teachers has been widely circulated on social media. These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,” the statement reads. “Her actions do not represent the values of our district. The teacher has been placed on leave while the District conducts an investigation.”

A reply to the Tweet sent out by RUSD showed a high school yearbook from 2012 that included a profile for Reed that praises her use of the offensive performance.

“I find that if I tell them a story using math along the way, it’s like a memory device!” read her quote. “It just may stick with them forever.”

Apparently, Reed has done this for a while, and many people are claiming that the schools don’t care and wonder whether they placed her on paid leave or not.

Since the statement’s release, there has been no elaboration on the leave, the investigation, or the section that was found in the old yearbook.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.