A display will be removed from the Blackpool Illuminations this year after some said it was “racist” and displayed Native American people as "caricatures".

The ‘Wild West’ panel will no longer feature in the upcoming 2022 illuminations with a new tableau "celebrating indigenous culture" set to take its place next year.  

The display in question depicts stereotypical Native Americans who are holding axes and surrounded by a totem pole and cactus.

Anthony Perry, a member of the Native American tribe ‘Chickasaw Nation’, has been campaigning for the display to be changed since September 2021.

He is now working with the council to help create a new display for the 2023 illuminations. 

Last year, he wrote a lengthy letter to Blackpool Council saying he was “deeply concerned about racism against Native peoples being celebrated through the Blackpool Illuminations.”

The letter continued: “I was dismayed to see stereotypical Native peoples dancing before a totem pole on the Visit Blackpool site for the Blackpool Illuminations.  

“Native Americans have long been caricatured- often in the name of 'honouring' them -as an attempt to erase our culture, redefine our history and assimilate us with Euro-centric ideals.

“Caricatures such as these reinforce racial stereotypes of Native Americans as being primitive people who have no place in modern society.  

“Showing - let alone promoting - such illuminations also does little to promote Blackpool as a welcoming community.  Instead, it paints Blackpool as a community that supports racism and discrimination. 

“It doesn't reflect the difficult conversations and changing societal values on race that we've seen since the Black Lives Matter protests that sparked your resolution. 

“Worse still, these illuminations are seen by hundreds of thousands of people each year, which means that they spread stereotypes to other communities in the UK and beyond.  

“I would not expect such an exhibit to stand if it contained caricatures of Black, Asian or other peoples of colour; nor should it stand if it contains caricatures of the first peoples of the United States and Canada.”

Lancashire Telegraph: Anthony PerryAnthony Perry

After the council’s latest announcement, Anthony, who is originally from Oklahoma in America but has lived in Britain for 17 years,  said he is “thankful” that change is being enacted.

He said: “I expressed my concerns back in September. The council heard the concerns and said they would be undertaking a review about that to do.

“The council have been incredibly supportive of this. They took the time to listen and understand where I was coming from with this – they wanted to make it right.

“They said that this wasn’t the message they wanted to come out of Blackpool.”

Anthony is now working with the council to try and find a Native American artist to create a new tableau.

He said: “The good news out of all of this is that they’re not just taking down the tableau.

“It is being replaced with exhibits from actual Native Americans.

“I am working with them to help them find a native artist who has the experience and expertise to try and do this.”

Anthony also expressed concern over another display which “depicts caricatures of indigenous Hawaiian people”.

He will contact the council to see if a replacement tableau can also be made its place.

A Blackpool Council spokesperson said “We are re-imagining the tableau for the 2023 Illuminations season with input from representatives of the native American network.

“We are looking to produce a new design that will celebrate indigenous culture. The current tableau will be rested for this season to enable that work to be undertaken.”