Caught on video, a group of tourists appears to be mocking a Native American street performer on the Santa Fe Plaza.
The video has gotten thousands of views and hundreds of comments, calling this an act of racism. The man says he thought the group might have been intoxicated, and says they mocked his pow wow music until a bystander stepped in.
John SwiftBird says each week he brings a piece of his Lakota heritage to the Santa Fe Plaza.
“They are old pow wow songs from the northern plains,” SwiftBird says.
On Monday, the street performer’s songs were interrupted.
“Some group of young women who were dressed in the same attire were kind of intoxicated jumping up and down to the songs I was singing, making mockery sounds,” SwiftBird.
In the video captured by Steve Wilkerson, four women can be seen bowing and dancing around SwiftBird.
“I didn’t let it get to me, I wasn’t discouraged,” SwiftBird says.
SwiftBird says he continued to play and they continued to mimic him until Wilkerson approached and called them out.
Since being posted to Facebook Thursday, the video has been viewed about 20,000 times.
“For somebody to come here from another place and actively mock a Native person, just the level of ignorance that I’m perceiving coming from that instance is really mind blowing,” says Liv Orovich.
Wilkerson followed the women to their car. They never showed their faces or give their names, but SwiftBird says even though it was a negative experience it’s worth sharing.
“I hope it takes away racial animosity to some degree,” SwiftBird says.
SwiftBird says he’s been performing on the plaza for about two years and he’s never encountered behavior like this. The car the women left in had Georgia license plates.