Ted Nugent was booked to play a concert at the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel in Worley, Idaho, on August 4 — but the show has been canceled due to concern over what the tribe called the rocker's "racist and hate-filled remarks."
The cancellation came on the heels of an article published by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog on Monday morning. Hatewatch contacted Heather Keen, a public relations official for the tribe, who seemed to be caught off guard by the news that Nugent had been booked. "I’m going to have to check and see what happened here," she said. "Obviously, something may have fallen through the cracks."
Later in the day, Keen said in a statement, "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."
Then, Monday evening, Keen announced the concert was being canceled, explaining that "Nugent’s history of racist and hate-filled remarks was brought to Tribal Council’s attention earlier today." Tribal Chief Allan added that "We know what it’s like to be the target of hateful messages and we would never want perpetuate hate in any way."
The racist remarks most often cited are jabs at President Obama which include calling him a "subhuman mongrel" and a "chimpanzee." But Nugent's racially-insensitive behavior extends to Native Americans as well. 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.
In an April 2013 article for the right-wing commentary site WND.com (formerly WorldNetDaily), Nugent took aim at the movement to change the Washington Redskins team name using language that many Natives will find objectionable. The article was called "A Tomahawk Chop to Political Correctness" and included these turns of phrase:
"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."
Critics of the name, Nugent addes, "are wafting smoke signals of real distress coming from the American Indian community that are being ignored."
Though Nugent clearly believes otherwise, 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 Natives:
"Because of my clean and sober, hands-on conservation bowhunting 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 BloodBrothers."
Yesterday's decision by the Coeur d'Alene suggests Nugent may need to double-check his standing in Indian country.