In all its incarnations—J.M. Barrie’s play and novel, various film adaptations and novel reimaginings, even the “Peter Pan’s Flight” ride at Disney World—Peter Pan is an undisputed classic. It’s also incredibly problematic in its depiction of Native Americans, an issue that dates back to Barrie’s original text.
Here, for example, is how the author describes Neverland’s Indians the first time they appear in the story: “They carry tomahawks and knives, and their naked bodies gleam with paint and oil. Strung around them are scalps, of boys as well as of pirates, for these are the Piccaninny tribe, and not to be confused with the softer-hearted Delawares or the Hurons.”
Yikes. Naturally, this poses a conundrum for anyone hoping to adapt Pan for modern audiences. For its upcoming production of Peter Pan Live!, NBC decided to address the issue by hiring a Native American consultant and writing new lyrics for “Ugg-a-Wugg,” widely considered to be the stage musical’s most insensitive number. This seems like a positive step; the original song indicates that Native American languages are made up of nonsense words and features the line “brave noble redskin”: READ FULL STORY