A Native-American traveler experienced humiliation after her braids were snapped and told “giddy up,” by a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agent.
What We Know:
- As she traveled through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, indigenous rights activist and lawyer, Tara Houska took to Twitter to use her platform to call out the unacceptable behavior exemplified by the TSA agent.
Going through @TSA at @mspairport, the agent said she needed to pat down my braids. She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said “giddyup!” as she snapped my braids like reins.
My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your “fun” hurt.
— tara houska (@zhaabowekwe) January 13, 2020
- Houska says the woman responded that it was “all in fun and that her hair is beautiful”. Houska quickly reassured her that that was not a compliment and it was NOT okay.
According to a statement from the agency, TSA officials investigated the incident Tuesday. Cliff Van Leuven, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Minnesota, spoke with Houska and apologized for the agent’s actions and “insensitive” comment, according to the statement.
- Houska is not seeking any disciplinary actions against the specific TSA agent, but does want this to be an overall learning experience for everyone. She hopes that all staff will educate themselves on the many Native Americans and bands within Minnesota. TSA extended an offer for her to come speak to agents or do a training video on sensitivity toward indigenous issues, which she plans to accept.
- Houska is also cofounder of Not Your Mascots, a nonprofit that fights against stereotypical native representations in sports.
Houska has hopes that this or anything similar doesn’t happen to anyone else in the future.