Native American activists are accusing the Mall of America of discrimination after the mall cancelled the group’s tribal dance demonstration and had two of its leaders arrested.
Last year the group, Idle No More, performed a “Round Dance” in the mall, to protest Canadian laws they believe are discriminatory against native people.
This year when Idle No More showed up they were kicked out.
Mall officials said, not only was their performance last year “extremely disruptive,” it’s the mall’s policy not to hold protests.
We don't allow protests in Mall of America and haven't in 21 years," said Maureen Bausch, Executive Vice President of Business Development, told KARE 11. "It clearly did not have to happen."
Mall of American says it told the group repeatedly that it would not be allowed to perform at the mall again this year.
“Any other group seems to be welcome in the Mall of America,” said Idle No More attorney Jordan Kushner.
"They're not allowed to discriminate. So they're treating this Native American group differently," said attorney Jordan Kushner.
"It's a friendship dance," argued activist Reyna Crow, of Idle No More – Duluth, who was arrested when she refused to leave. She said the group organized “a dance of renewed relationships, deeply connected to Mother Earth, Medicine Waters and in the spirit of all people of all walks of life joining in one circle of friendship and peace, and certainly not a protest.”
"If you look at the website for Idle No More, it is an activist group. It is a protest. It is a demonstration," Bausch said.
"All we wanted to do is have the same equal access to the mall as other flash mobs have been here," said Patricia Shepard, of Idle No More Minnesota, who was also arrested.
“What happened is really disturbing and racist,” Kushner said of the arrests. “The Mall of America singled this group out because they didn’t appreciate a Native American group having a cultural celebration.”
Both women have since been released.
"They're not allowed to discriminate. So they're treating this Native American group differently," Kushner said.
The mall says it doesn’t discriminate. Just last summer the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community performed an annual ceremony in the mall.