In recent days, a promotion at the Washington, DC bar McFadden's elicited outrage from American Indians. The event was a pre-Thanksgiving party touted with flyers or posters bearing the slogan "Party Like a Pilgrim, Drink Like an Indian."
In fact, it wasn't just Native Americans who found the material objectionable. Complex.com, which had named McFadden's the "douchiest" bar in DC, sarcastically asked "How Inappropriate is This D.C. Bar's Thanksgiving Party Poster?" City blog DCist called it the "Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Racist Thanksgiving Party Poster."
Concerned Facebookers hammered the bar's page with protests and accusations of racism (and as of this writing, it hasn't stopped), and the bar eventually responded, sending out this statement (shared by The 1491s) via e-mail:
It has come to our attention that one of our Thanksgiving events has caused some concern to our guests. The Pilgrims and Indians party, originally scheduled for Tuesday November 20th, was intended to be a festive event to get into the holiday spirit, and was never meant to offend any ethnicity or group of individuals. We truly apologize for not being more sensitive to our loyal patrons whose support and enthusiasm has been appreciated throughout the years.
We have since canceled the event and removed all promotional materials. In lieu of the event, McFadden's would like to say thank you to our loyal customers by hosting a complimentary cocktail hour from 8-9pm on Tuesday November 20th.
We appreciate your understanding and hope that you'll join us in good spirits!
Your friends and family at McFadden's
Here's the poster itself:
This isn't the first time a party with that slogan has caused a stir — two years ago, the St. Paul, MN, bar Station 280 canceled its promotion after the following advertisement prompted dozens of angry phone calls:
Even when they don't invite patrons to "drink like an Indian", many flyers, advertisements and posters use imagery and innuendo many Natives find disturbing. Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday in Indian country, yet many bars and strip clubs see it as a time for revelry in sexualized Indian-maiden (or Indian-brave, if that's your thing) costumes. A search of Facebook and Google found the following advertisements for events happening this year.
Philadelphia, PA: McFadden's Thanksgiving Eve Party
Rockville Centre, NY: McFadden's Rockville Centre Thanksgiving Eve
New York, NY: Splash Bar "Give Thanks!"
Woonsocket, RI: Rhode Island Dolls Annual Pre-Thanksgiving Party
St. Charles, MO: Bobby's Place Annual Thanksgiving Eve Sexy Pilgrim & Indian Party
Wayne, NJ: Lace Wayne Annual Thanksgiving Party
Denver, CO: Milwaukee St. Tavern First Annual Pilgrims & Indians Party ("Costume contest at 12")
Boston, MA: Mojito's Pre-Thanksgiving Party
Pittsburgh, PA: Club Controversy's Thanksgiving Eve party
Las Vegas, NV: Drai's Hollywood Thanksgiving
Cleveland, OH: Crazy Horse Cleveland Pilgrims & Indians Party
Orlando, FL: Touch Orlando THNX
Schaumburg, IL: Drink Nightclub's "Sexy Pilgrim & Indian Party" ("Free war paint and pilgrim hats!")
And here are a few promos from years past: