There is outrage over the Wellsville Founders’ Day Parade and Sham Battle that takes place each Labor Day in Wellsville, Utah.
As part of the celebration, white men and women wear reface and “fight” other white people in what is supposed to be a reenactment of how pioneer settlers supposedly persevered against Native American attacks.
“You kind of get to act crazy, and hoop and holler, and… like you’re a threat,” one white woman, portraying a Native American, told KTSU.
During the reenactment, an announcer painted the invading white settlers as the victims:
The settlers had to be cautious about the hostile Indians, and they had to guard their horses and cattle day and night… The Indians thought they could burn the pioneers’ building to the ground.
The announcer said the pioneers fought with the Native Americans in the Battle of the Bear River, the pioneers stood their ground, and Wellsville went on to flourish.
Robert Lucero, director of Ute Political Action Committee (Ute PAC) countered:
I just could not believe what I saw. This is just nothing but a false portrayal, a racist portrayal. It’s ignorant, and it’s offensive.
Pioneers were attacked by this outside force, is just a false narrative. It’s just not true. To portray the Indians as the savages is just… We’re supposed to be over that portrayal. It’s just not right.
What I think they’d like to see at least, is that Wellsville come out strongly and say, ‘We don’t support a racist portrayal of the relations between settlers, pioneers and the Indians.”
Wellsville Mayor Thomas Bailey told The Herald Journal: “It’s just a tradition that’s carried on. And that’s the only purpose for it. It’s just something that young people in Wellsville have enjoyed doing.”
City Manager Scott Wells added: “Pioneers would dress up and act like attacking Indians so that the militia could practice their skills.”