The room remained quiet until the teacher began yelling the word — usually used in reference to trigonometric functions — and jumping around the classroom. At that point, the room erupted in laughter.
The video, which was reportedly recorded by a Native American student and then posted to social media on Wednesday, has sparked outrage inside and outside the Native American community.
Critics called out the teacher for imitating stereotypes of Indigenous people and demanded the Riverside, Calif., teacher be terminated for what they say was an inappropriate and offensive act. She has since been placed on leave pending an internal investigation, the Riverside Unified School District announced in a statement.
“These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,” the district said on Thursday, without naming the teacher. “Her actions do not represent the values of our district.”
The statement does not name the school where the woman teaches, but John W. North High posted the district’s statement to its Instagram account, calling her “one of our teachers.”
A district spokeswoman declined to identify the teacher when contacted by The Washington Post late Thursday.
“Because the case is under investigation, we cannot make any comments,” district spokeswoman Diana Meza told The Post in an email.
The principal of John W. North High School did not immediately respond to a message from The Post.
At some point during the math lesson, the teacher can be seen stomping her feet as she stands atop a table in the back of the classroom, chanting “SohCahToa” before making her way to the center of the classroom.
Then, the teacher sits on top of her desk while praying to the “water goddess” before giggling.
“Because obviously this is ridiculous,” she told students.
The incident is the latest case of a teacher being placed on leave or terminated over racially insensitive comments or actions. In 2018, an Albuquerque English teacher was terminated after students reported she called a Native American teen a “bloody Indian” and cut another’s braid. In April, a New Jersey science teacher was suspended after calling George Floyd a “criminal” during a virtual class.