Rocker Ted Nugent, it appears, is going to have a more difficult time booking shows at American Indian casinos after a North Idaho tribe’s decision this week to cancel an appearance because of his “history of racist and hate-filled remarks.”
The focus of the growing issue is not Nugent’s constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech, but why American Indians – the targets of racial animus for centuries – would host a performer whose on-stage antics are riddled with racism.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians cancelled Nugent’s August 4 appearance at its casino after being asked by Hatewatch on Monday how such a performance squared with the tribe’s remarkable history of involvement in human rights causes.
Nugent lashed out following the announcement, saying those responsible for cancelling his show were “unclean vermin,” Gannett Wisconsin Media reports.
The developments are causing a buzz, not only in American Indian circles, but in other communities throughout the United States where Nugent’s “SHUTUP & JAM!” show is booked.
On Facebook and other social media sites, several people have called upon the Puyallup Tribe to cancel Nugent’s two shows scheduled for August 2 and 3 at the tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.
Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud was en route to Hawaii today and couldn’t be reached for comment, but Hatewatch has learned he just sent a blistering memo directing the Emerald Queen to never again book Nugent.
“Yes, the Tribal Council has sent this memo directing that the casino never book him again,” tribal spokesman John Weymer told Hatewatch.
“Our council is proactive on this,” Weymer said, adding that Nugent previously has performed at Emerald Queen. “I’ve met him myself, and I can tell you he’s a jackass,” Weymer said.
It appeared that attempts were underway to cancel Nugent’s August concerts at Emerald Queen, but that may be a costly move for the tribe and its casino. The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has not publicly said how much it will have to spend to legally terminate its contract with Nugent, after spending hundreds of dollars in radio, television and newspaper advertising for his show, now cancelled.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s cancellation decision has received overwhelming public support.
“Nugent’s racially-insensitive behavior extends to Native Americans as well,” the site said in a lengthy post on Tuesday. “He frequently wears a feather headdress on stage and appropriates a sacred Native symbol in his song ‘Great White Buffalo,’ both of which are highly disrespectful to Native culture.”
The Indian Country article referred to Nugent’s comments on WorldNetDaily (WND.com) about a movement to change the name of the Washington Redskins pro football team. In the article called “A Tomahawk Chop to Political Correctness” Nugent wrote:
Every so often some numbskull beats the politically correct war drum protesting the names of sports teams. If there are Native Americans whose feathers are ruffled over the names of sports teams, I submit that they are sorely focused on all the wrong things.
Call me crazy horse, but maybe we should start by addressing issues that truly matter most and would actually save Indian’s lives. These brutally ugly and heartbreaking conditions are the real modern trail of tears, but what’s really disgusting is that a Motown guitar player [Nugent] has to shine a light on the tragedy.
The Indian Country article said “anti-mascot activists would argue that the everyday use of a dated slur encourages exactly this sort of casual stereotyping and trivializing of Native culture.”
Nugent concluded the essay by casting himself as a savior of American Indians:
Because of my clean and sober, hands-on conservation bow-hunting lifestyle and song ‘The Great White Buffalo,’ Native American tribes have invited me to teach their young people how to reconnect with the land and teach them how to bow hunt the mighty American bison. It was in their midst that I learned firsthand about the terrible problems facing my Indian Blood Brothers.
“[The] decision by the Coeur d’Alene suggests Nugent may need to double-check his standing in Indian country,” the Indian Country piece said.
Devin Burghart, the Seattle-based Vice President of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights (IREHR), applauded “the courageous decision by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe to cancel” the performance. He said his group was encouraging “all other venues to follow the lead of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and think twice about allowing Mr. Nugent to use their stages to promote his snarling brand of hatred and bigotry.”
But Burghart stressed that the “burden of addressing racism and bigotry shouldn’t fall onto the tribes.” He said it falls on everyone, “particularly the white fans of Mr. Nugent and the many predominantly white-owned venues where he is scheduled to perform” to challenge his racism.
Less than seven hours after being asked about the racist legacy of rock entertainer Ted Nugent, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians this evening cancelled a scheduled performance next month by the controversial performer.
Tribal officials sounded completely caught off-guard earlier in the day when Hatewatch called and asked why the tribe – with a sterling record of combating hate and standing up for equal rights – had booked Nugent.
Heather Keen, the public relations director for the tribe, announced the decision that Nugent’s scheduled for Aug.4 was being abruptly cancelled.
“Nugent’s history of racist and hate-filled remarks was brought to Tribal Council’s attention earlier today” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Keen said in a statement e-mailed to media outlets.
“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights – for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” the statement said.
Chief Allan, Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, issued a one-sentence statement about the cancellation, without explaining how Nugent got booked in the first place.
“We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way,” Allen said in the statement.
Laura Stensgar, the executive director of marketing for the tribe’s Coeur d’Alene Casino, apparently either made the decision or oversaw someone who booked Nugent. Many of his racist remarks have been made from the stage during rock performances, during which he sometimes wears an Indian headdress.
“We adamantly do not want our casino to be used as a venue for the racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses,” Stensgar said.
“Unfortunately, when we booked him, we were looking at him from an entertainment perspective, as an 80s rock ‘n roller, who we thought folks might enjoy,” Stensgar said.
“We take the comments and concerns of our community very seriously and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the idea that we would promote these kinds of attitudes. We will do our best to avoid such mistakes moving forward,” Stensgar added.
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe of American Indians — itself the target of a recent racist graffiti attack — has booked racist rocker Ted Nugent for a public concert next month at the tribe’s landmark North Idaho casino.
The decision is stirring controversy for a tribe that has proudly involved itself in human rights causes and contributed thousands of dollars to fight racism.
Nugent sometimes wears an Indian headdress on stage, coming close to ridiculing American Indian culture, and mocks those campaigning to change names of sports teams that use words like Redskins and Savages.
The legendary rocker, who also is on the board of the National Rifle Association, has a “long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language,” Media Matters reported earlier this year.
That came after Nugent called President Obama a “subhuman mongrel” and referred to him as a “chimpanzee.” Nugent previously called Obama a Nazi and a “piece of shit” who should “suck on my machine gun.” He once called Hilary Clinton a “toxic cunt” and, on another topic, said, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best [if] had the South won the Civil War.”
Many of Nugent’s offensive comments have been made on stage during concerts, but he also
has made some of them as a contributor to World Net Daily, a right-wing publication known for pitching conspiracy theories, anti-gay propagandizing and challenging the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate.
“That’s a good question,” Heather Keen, the public relations officer for the Coeur d’Alene Tribe said today when asked why the tribe had booked the controversial rocker for a casino rock show on Aug. 4. “I’m going to have to check and see what happened here. Obviously, something may have fallen through the cracks.”
She promised to get a statement from Chief Allen, the full name of the tribal chairman, and Don Matheson, the chief executive officer of the Coeur d’Alene Resort and Casino. It was not immediately clear who booked Nugent or if tribal leaders were aware of the singer’s racist track record.
A short time after being contacted by Hatewatch, Keen released this more formal statement: “The casino is a large enterprise that operates very autonomously and under that model, the casino management team is in charge of booking entertainment acts. Tribal Council doesn’t play a part in day to day operations of the casino and in fact Tribal Council wasn’t aware of this booking until it was brought to their attention this morning. Reviewing scheduled acts is not something in which Tribal Council or the tribal government participates; however, if it had been up to Tribal Council this act would have never been booked. We’re looking into our options right now but ultimately that will need to be coordinated with and through our management team at the Casino. Having said that, I believe there are some high-level conversations taking place at the Casino as we speak.”
“It’s surprising to me,” former tribal council member John Abraham, who also has served on the Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force, told Hatewatch. “I had no idea about this guy’s background and it’s really something.”
Christina Crawford, who worked for seven years as the tribe’s manager of entertainment and special events, said she was astounded when she was told Nugent would be appearing at the Coeur d’Alene Casino. Crawford was a founder of a human rights task force in Benewah County, where the casino is located.
“Never ever would I have booked that kind of racist at the casino,” Crawford told Hatewatch. “I find this astonishing.”
“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has a long record of involvement in human rights issues and they understand clearly what harm prejudice can do. Maybe someone just booked him as a rock-and-roll act and paid no attention to his other issues.
“It’s so destructive for the tribe,” Crawford said.
Tony Stewart, a founder of the Kootenai County Human Rights Task Force, said he was dumbfounded about Nugent’s forthcoming appearance hosted by an American Indian tribe that fights racism.
“He’s a hate-filled speaker, is what he is,” Stewart said of Nugent.
The irony of the tribe’s decision to book Nugent is highlighted by an incident that occurred earlier in July, when unknown vandals defaced a sign on its reservation with the words “White power” and “Die [expletive] Indians,” along with what appeared to be a misdrawn swastika.
How the hell can anyone in this day and age not know who Ted Nugent is?
How can anyone have never heard of him or not be aware of his racist vitriol?
No one can possibly be that ignorant and dense.
Obviously someone came to their senses and cancelled the event.
You would think with television, newspapers, blogs, and the Internet itself, no one person or group has an excuse to say they did not know the ideology or stance a person has on racism, sexism, ageism, or any other ism.
If you, in the plural, are going to book a speaker, take the time to find out all you can about the person.
It takes less time to do something right in the first place, than to have to explain why you did it wrong.