'Pilgrims and Indians' Fraternity Party Sparks Controversy at Duke University, and Online
A "Pilgrims and Indians" party thrown by a Duke University fraternity on November 19 inspired a disgusted student to condemn it in the school newspaper. The invitation, as quoted in Nicole Daniels' Chronicle article "Pi Kapp party fuels anger," read:
“In 1621 some crazy pilgrims had a pretty brutal harvest. Word on the street was they didn’t have enough food for half the bros in Plymouth. Then some hot natives came along with some extra food.… On Saturday, the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi will be honoring that party spirit. There will be a cornucopia of treats in our modern-day teepee. Tap into your inner pocahotness, wear a few feathers and party like you don’t care if you survive the winter.”
Daniels wrote that she was upset at the theme of the party but attended in order to witness first hand just what it was all about. "It was very disheartening to find my own friends there, dressed in outfits that epitomized an insensitive caricature of Native Americans," she wrote. Further down, she asserted that "[t]his party was bigoted and racist, and such an event would never be tolerated if other races were involved. Would Duke students attend a 'master and slave' themed party where guests were invited to wear blackface? How about a party where students dress up like Nazis and Jews? Surely these events would trigger student objection and national media attention, and rightfully so. Yet 'Pilgrims and Indians' did not faze Duke University."
She concluded by stating "Everyone who attended this party should feel ashamed. We are students at a prestigious university, and we should know better."
Daniels' strong words have provoked strong reactions, both in support and opposition. The comments section on on the Chronicle website currently contains over 350 posts.
You'll also find robust—if not always thoughtful—comment threads on these sites: