Blackpool Illuminations light display depicting Native Americans branded racist by tribe member

·3-min read
Complaints have been made that some of the Blackpool illuminations are racist. See SWNS story SWBRlights; A famous 60-year-old panel featured as part of the popular Blackpool Illuminations light show could be removed next year - after complaints of racism. The world-famous light show has been attracting millions of visitors to the Lancashire seaside town for over 140 years, with the Promenade lit up for a whole four months at the end of each year. But one of the illuminated attractions, which has featured in the light show since the 1960s, has now come under fire for portraying allegedly racist imagery. The offending tableau, located to the north of Blackpool Promenade, depicts six axe-wielding Native Americans in war bonnets, dancing around a totem pole. It has prompted a complaint from a member of the Native American tribe, Chickasaw Nation, who is now living in England - and says the display paints Blackpool as a town that supports racism and discrimination.
The tableau, part of the famous Blackpool Illuminations, has been accused of being racist. (SWNS)

A longstanding Blackpool light display depicting Native Americans dancing around a totem pole may be removed after it provoked a complaint of racism. 

The attraction, which has been part of the world-famous Blackpool illuminations since the 1960s, sparked a complaint from a tribe member who called for it to be removed or hidden. 

The tableau, on the north of Blackpool Promenade, depicts six Native Americans wielding axes and wearing headdresses, dancing around a totem pole.

The imagery prompted a complaint from a member of the Native American tribe, Chickasaw Nation, who is now living in England, and says the display is racist. 

The man has met with Blackpool Council bosses to discuss the lights, calling for them to be "removed or concealed".

The man who complained is a member of the Native American tribe, Chickasaw Nation, who is now living in England. (SWNS)
The man who complained is a member of the Native American tribe, Chickasaw Nation, who is now living in England. (SWNS)

The council said the lights were "designed and created many years ago and intended to be a celebration of different cultures" but said their continued use in future years would be addressed.

A letter of complaint to the council says: "Caricatures such as these reinforce racial stereotypes of Native Americans as being primitive people who have no place in modern society.

"Research has shown that caricatures like these have harmed Native youth by lowering self-esteem and increasing depression and rates of self-harm and substance abuse.

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"It has also increased discrimination against Native students.

"This is not the approach I would expect from a community whose council unanimously supported a resolution to 'confirm support for the anti-racist aims of Black Lives Matter and other anti-racism campaigns.'"

Complaints have been made that some of the Blackpool illuminations are racist. See SWNS story SWBRlights; A famous 60-year-old panel featured as part of the popular Blackpool Illuminations light show could be removed next year - after complaints of racism. The world-famous light show has been attracting millions of visitors to the Lancashire seaside town for over 140 years, with the Promenade lit up for a whole four months at the end of each year. But one of the illuminated attractions, which has featured in the light show since the 1960s, has now come under fire for portraying allegedly racist imagery. The offending tableau, located to the north of Blackpool Promenade, depicts six axe-wielding Native Americans in war bonnets, dancing around a totem pole. It has prompted a complaint from a member of the Native American tribe, Chickasaw Nation, who is now living in England - and says the display paints Blackpool as a town that supports racism and discrimination.
The display has been part of the Blackpool Illuminations since the 1960s. (SWNS)

The letter said showing the display painted Blackpool as: "a community that supports racism and discrimination" and shows limited awareness of the contributions that Native people have played in British history.

It added: "We also are among the migrants who have found a home in global Britain.

"I would not expect such an exhibit to stand if it contained caricatures of Black, Asian or other peoples of colour; nor should it stand if it contains caricatures of the first peoples of the United States and Canada."

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: "Our officers have been in constructive discussion with two people of Native American origin who raised concerns about the tableau.

"We have explained the background to the historic elements of the Illuminations display and assured them that these were designed and created many years ago and intended to be a celebration of different cultures. Both have accepted that assurance.

"The Illuminations are one of the UK’s most enduring family attractions and we would never do anything intended to cause offence.

"We will, as a matter of course, take on board the comments received and review which features are appropriate for inclusion in next year’s display.

"We have also agreed to explore options for a new tableau that celebrates native American culture with input from the network based in the UK."

It is not the first time a portrayal of Native Americans have sparked accusations of racism - last year the Exeter Chiefs rugby team axed their 'Big Chief' mascot, replacing it with a hawk called Tom.

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