Top private school forced to drop 'tribal' house names after parents complain over 'cultural appropriation'

​Dulwich Prep School

Dulwich Prep School forced to drop 'tribal' house names after parents complain over 'cultural appropriation'

Geograph
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop


Published: 17/06/2024

- 22:57

Dulwich Prep School decided to scrap the historic names, which have been used at the institution since 1916, in order to avoid offending those with Native American ancestry

A prestigious private school has axed its “tribal” house names over fears of “cultural appropriation”.

Pupils at Dulwich Prep School in south London, whose alumni include Hugh Bonneville, the actor, and Derek Underwood, the cricketer, are allocated to one of four houses named Chippeway, Deerfeet, Mohican or Ojibwa.


The boys’ school decided to scrap the Native American names, which have been used at the institution since 1916, in order to avoid offending those with that ancestry and pointed to a wider cultural shift in “society’s understanding as history evolves”.

The fee-paying school is understood to have made the changes after it received some complaints from parents who were concerned over the names.

\u200bDulwich Prep School Dulwich Prep School forced to drop 'tribal' house names after parents complain over 'cultural appropriation'Geograph

Now, the house titles will be replaced with mythical creature names - Phoenix, Pegasus and Gryphon and Lamassu, a mythical creature from Mesopotamia which had a human head and a bull's body.

Former pupils have argued that the house names were an integral part of their experience there.

BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, 79, told The Daily Mail: “I’m really depressed that something fundamental to the experience of every Dulwich Prep kid – which of us doesn’t remember whether he was a Chippeway, Deerfeet, Mohican or Ojibwa? – is being done away with.”

He added: “I don’t suppose it’ll matter to what is nowadays a very fine school, but it matters to everyone who was there, no matter how old they are now.

LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:

“And to what end? So indigenous Americans won’t accuse Dulwich of cultural appropriation? Please. They’ve got better things to do.”

Historian Lord Andrew Roberts said that removing the names and replacing them with mythical ones was offensive to indigenous people.

“How racist of Dulwich Prep to do away with these noble tribal names that celebrate Native American culture, and replace them with pure Harry Potter names like Gryphon,” he told The Times.

Deerfeet House was named in honour of an Indian runner known as Deerfoot, whilst Chippeway and Ojibwas, were bestowed the names in celebration of the Ojibwa people from the Great Lakes in the US and Canada.

\u200bHugh Bonneville

Hugh Bonneville is one of the famous alumni of the school

Getty

Meanwhile, the Mohicans, of which Simpson was a part, was named after a tribe in north-east America.

Louise Davidson, the school’s headteacher, wrote an open letter to pupils to explain the decision.

She wrote: “For over a century, the school has looked to Native American culture as an inspiration and a way of helping our pupils understand how to lead a good life. The reason for their adoption was one of appreciation and hope, which is still their core today.

“We recognise that, as society’s understanding of history evolves, and [with] research that has included advice from the National Congress of American Indians, we have decided to move away from using tribes as our house system.”

You may like

{% if context.post.roar_specific_data and context.post.roar_specific_data.affiliate_post %} {% elif %} {% endfor %}