‘Cowboys and Indians’ game removed from seaside pier after single complaint calling it ‘racist’ 

Vintage ‘Cowboys and Indians’ game is removed from seaside pier after single complaint from social care worker who said it was ‘extremely racist’

  • The ‘cowboys and Indians’ shooting game had been at Weston-super-Mare pier
  • But it was shut down after Emily Crossing, 30, wrote to complain it was racist 
  • She said it was ‘clearly racist’ and hit out at pier chiefs for ‘cultural appropriation’

A vintage ‘Cowboys and Indians’ game has been removed from a seaside pier after a social care worker complained it was ‘extremely racist’.

The game at the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare allowed children to ‘shoot’ at figurines of Native Americans while riding an animatronic horse and had been there for years. 

But it has now been removed after a single complaint from Emily Crossing, who hit out at it as ‘cultural appropriation’.

The 30-year-old said she had been with her mother during a family visit to the pier earlier this year when she saw the arcade machine.

She spotted the game, which featured a saloon with a cowboy on the backdrop, and a gun for shooting moving Native American figures while the player sat on a horse.

The adult social care worker from Oxford wrote to pier bosses and told them she thought it was ‘extremely racist’ and ‘outdated’.

The vintage arcade game (pictured) has been removed from the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare

The vintage arcade game (pictured) has been removed from the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare

The game allows children to ride an animatronic horse and shoot at figures of Native Americans

The game allows children to ride an animatronic horse and shoot at figures of Native Americans

Emily Crossing (pictured) said she was shocked to find the game when visiting the pier and said it was 'clearly racist'

Emily Crossing (pictured) said she was shocked to find the game when visiting the pier and said it was ‘clearly racist’

Ms Crossing said the game should be removed as it was ‘clearly racist’. 

‘It’s absolutely shocking,’ she said.

‘Mum and I both just had our mouths open when we first saw it – we were in absolute shock.

‘The figures of indigenous Americans were in full-on headdresses and there are little ‘cowboys’ everywhere.

‘I can’t believe the managers have no idea about cultural appropriation.’

Emily says she first emailed the company on May 29 after a visit earlier that month.

She claims then then contacted the Grand Pier again over a month later, as she hadn’t heard back.

She says she then received a reply, which she says claimed the game was a legacy piece the company inherited when they bought the pier.

She added that bosses also claimed no one else had complained, and it was up to parents whether their children go on it.

Bosses at the Grand Pier later emailed the 30-year-old to say it was a 'legacy' piece that had been there when it was bought by the current owners, Ms Crossing claims

Bosses at the Grand Pier later emailed the 30-year-old to say it was a ‘legacy’ piece that had been there when it was bought by the current owners, Ms Crossing claims

The game allows children to 'shoot' a gun at figurines of Native Americans, with the rider playing the role of a cowboy

The game allows children to ‘shoot’ a gun at figurines of Native Americans, with the rider playing the role of a cowboy

Ms Crossing said bosses seemed to be oblivious to 'cultural appropriation' and said it was 'outdated and extremely shocking'

Ms Crossing said bosses seemed to be oblivious to ‘cultural appropriation’ and said it was ‘outdated and extremely shocking’

Emily then posted on Instagram where she says she received messages of support.

And she said: ‘This is 2022 – that game is racist whether you chose to play it or not. It’s outdated and extremely shocking.’

As of July 12, the game was still available on the pier.

However, earlier this week a spokesperson for the Grand Pier confirmed it had been removed. 

When contacted on July 21, they said: ‘That machine is no longer in our estate.’

The game ‘Cowboys and Indians’ has been played by children in school playgrounds for generations.

It is a variation of the tag game ‘Cops and Robbers’, where members of one team have to chase and tag members of the opposing team.

The game has been around for decades, with children possibly taking inspiration from Western films and TV shows, which often featured conflict between American settlers and Native Americans in the Wild West.

In the US the use of Native American imagery and stereotypes has become controversial, with some claiming it demeans and insults members of a group that was a victim of genocide when people from Europe colonised the continent.

Earlier this year the Washington Redskins NFL team changed its name to the Washington Commanders after fierce criticism over its use of a term long thought to be a racist way of referring to Native Americans.

The team had been named that when it was founded in 1933 by owner George Preston Marshall as a tribute to its head coach, a Native American man called William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz.

But years of protests against the name and its use of the traditional Native American head gear culminated with its current co-owners changing the name and badge earlier this year. 

Washington Commanders logo

Washington Redskins logo

The Washington Redskins  were rebranded the Washington Commanders earlier this year after protests against what people perceived to be its culturally insensitive name 

There have also been calls for other teams using Native American inspired names to change them, including NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves.

This has spread across to the UK as well – in 2018 a student’s union banned people from dressing up as Native Americans at fancy dress parties as it is ‘offensive’. 

The student union at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, said ‘dressing up as a particular race, culture or stereotype is offensive’.

The draft proposal also banned outfits with ‘historical or religious themes’, including Crusaders, Israeli soldiers, IS bombers and the Prophet Mohammed. 

But it did say students could dress up as doctors and nurses, Ancient Greeks, Romans, cave people and aliens.

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