Minnesota TSA agent snapped Native American woman's braids,said 'giddyup!'

US-POLITICS-CONGRESS

ByElisha Fieldstadt

A TSA agent whipped the braids of a Native American woman and yelled "Giddyup" during a security check at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, according to the woman and the federal Transportation Security Administration.

"Going through@TSAat@mspairport, the agent said she needed to pat down my braids. She pulled them behind my shoulders, laughed & said 'giddyup!' as she snapped my braids like reins," Tara Houska wrote on Twitter on Monday.

"When I informed the middle-aged blonde woman who had casually used her authority to dehumanize and disrespect me, she said 'Well it was just in fun, I’m sorry. Your hair is lovely.' <— that is NOT an apology and it is NOT okay, Houska added. "My hair is part of my spirit. I am a Native woman. I am angry, humiliated. Your 'fun' hurt."

Cliff Van Leuven, the TSA's federal security director in Minnesota, confirmed in an email sent to TSA employees at the airport that the incident happened Monday.

"In the news last night and today you’ve likely seen - or heard - of a TSA Officer at MSP who was insensitive in screening the long braided hair of a Native American passenger Monday morning. Did it actually happen? Yes. Exactly as described? Yes," said the email, which was shared with NBC News.

Van Leuven said he reached out to Houska and apologized. He said their conversation was pleasant, and Houska said she didn't want the employee to be disciplined, but that "she is hoping we’ll take the chance to continue to educate our staff about the many Native American Tribes/Bands in our state and region to better understand their culture."

Read more: NBCNews.com

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