MSP Airport Apologizes For TSA Agent’s Culturally Insensitive Pat Down
Tara Houska is a Native American woman - she is Ojibwe from the Couchiching First Nation. Houska is an indigenous rights advocate and tribal attorney in Washington, DC. Not only that, she is the National Campaigns Director for Honor the Earth, and one of the founders of Not Your Mascots.
Last week, Houska, went to Twitter to express frustration with TSA at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. The body scanner "flagged" her braided ponytails. As a result, she had to get a "pat down" from a TSA agent. What happened next appalled Houska.
As the TSA agent checked Houska's person for any forbidden airport items, the agent took Houska's braids behind her back, whipped them like reins, and said "giddy up." When Houska confronted the TSA agent, she felt like the apology for the indiscretion was not an apology at all. You can read the tweet from January 13 below:
Going through @TSA at @mspairport, the agent said she need to pat down my braids. She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said "giddyup!" as she snapped my braids like reins... My hair is part of my spirit. I am angry, humiliated. Your "fun" hurt.
Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport did issue an apology via Twitter, as well as reach out to her via email. Houska did talk to TSA's federal security director for Minnesota, via phone, about the incident. Houska does not want the TSA agent disciplined for the transgression. Instead, she wants to use this as a learning experience in understanding Native American culture.
Below is the airport's Twitter apology:
We are so sorry to hear about your experience, and we'll send this tweet along to @TSA leadership for follow-up. We'd also be happy to file a form of complaint on your behalf, if you DM us your contact information.