Cherokee woman calls on Halloween Express store to remove 'racially insensitive' costumes

(Photo credit: John Le, WLOS)

A Cherokee woman calls on the owner of a Halloween store to pull what she considers Native American-themed costumes she says are racially insensitive.

Lori Sanders saw them at Halloween Express on Tunnel Road on Monday, which happened to be Indigenous Peoples' Day in the city.

The nine costumes she pointed out have names including Poca Hotty and Makin' Reservations.

"Hey Halloween Express," she posted on Facebook. "Stop takin' jabs at my race during my favorite holiday."

The store responded, posting "We are sorry if our costumes offend anyone. Halloween can be viewed different by many people."

"Somebody could find 80 percent of our costumes offensive if that's what they choose to do," owner Robbie Wright told WLOS/News 13, adding he has no intention of taking the items off the shelf. "We do not politicize Halloween. That's not something I want to get into debates with people about. It's a fun time to dress up with family and friends."

Wright acknowledged much of what he sells might be offensive to somebody, pointing to a pregnant nun costume as just one example.

"I'm sure that could offend many people," he said.

"Hot Scottie," he said of another outfit. "Could someone of Scottish heritage find that offensive? I don't know."

"I'd like to see them move us forward a little bit, to be a little understanding," said Sanders, who was once crowned Miss Cherokee back in 1989. She feels a responsibility to raise awareness.

"I really try to be a positive role model and our girls have a lot of challenges already," she explained. "Just seeing those kinds of things, it really feels like a step back."

"The kind of climate we're all living in, I would like to see them sort of strive, try to move us forward a little bit, to be a little understanding," she continued. "The sort of sorry, not sorry apology fell flat for most of us on the reservation. It might have almost been better if they hadn't said anything at all."

"I'm sorry that she was offended because I am. I don't want anyone to be offended," Wright said.

"I'm not going to politicize Halloween," Wright continued. "It's time for family and friends to have fun and I do have Native American friends who have no problems with those costumes."

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