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TSA Agent Tugs Native American Passenger’s Hair and Says “Giddyup!”

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


No, this isn’t an Onion story. It actually happened at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) this past Monday.

Tara Houska — a Native American attorney and environmental activist whose hair was in braids — was pulled aside for further screening while going through a TSA line.

Her braids needed a patdown. Interestingly, this isn’t uncommon for her. The Bemidji Pioneer reports “she said her hair regularly activates security scanners.”

The TSA officer conducting the patdown (whom Ms. Houska described as a “middle-aged blonde woman”) snapped Ms. Houska’s braids and said, “Giddyup!” as though she were a horse.

Yes.

The officer’s response? “Well it was just in fun, I’m sorry. Your hair is lovely.”

This situation is not remotely funny at all. It’s downright unacceptable and dehumanizing to anyone.

In my opinion, this wasn’t something “accidentally” offensive — like a first-time traveler to Japan inadvertently breaching chopstick etiquette or wearing shoes inside people’s homes. This was full-blown disrespect.

In an email to employees (that NBC obtained), the TSA’s federal security director in Minnesota confirmed the incident happened “Exactly as described.”

NBC’s Elisha Fieldstadt writes,”(The director) said their conversation was pleasant, and Houska said she didn’t want the employee to be disciplined, but that ‘she is hoping we’ll take the chance to continue to educate our staff about the many Native American Tribes/Bands in our state and region to better understand their culture.'”

Bravo to Ms. Houska for being so forgiving — and insisting the insensitive officer not be punished. I doubt I would’ve been as kind as she.

— Chris

H/T: Rick E.

Featured image: ©iStock.com/David Tran

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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2 Comments

  1. Jackson Adams

    Rather than publicize one incident with TSA and an NA, why not mention the thousands of whites who are abused by the TSA everyday despite committing the lowest level of violence amongst any group. The biggest victims of police, tsa and customs abuse are white people yet that hardly gets any mention by the mainstream press and blogs.

  2. I agree it is disrespectful on a human level, but as a native american, this has nothing to do with disrespect to native people.

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