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Scottsdale gallery owner facing charges after he was caught on video insulting Native American dancers

Gilbert Ortega Jr. swore at the dancers, mocking them and insulting the Native Americans in the Navajo language.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A Native American Gallery owner is facing charges after a video caught him insulting Indigenous dancers performing for CNN.

Scottsdale police submitted three charges of disorderly conduct against the owner, Gilbert Ortega, after he mocked the dancers, yelled "MAGA" country, and insulted the performers in their native Navajo, swearing at them.

"The City of Scottsdale prides itself as a welcoming community and condemns this individual's racist comments - they do not represent our community," the city's police department said.

The dancers were conducting a performance in front of a Super Bowl LVII sign for ESPN's party in Scottsdale.

“When out of a store, out of Gilbert Ortega’s store, came Gilbert Ortega Jr.," flutist Cody Blackbird said. 

“He started slandering and throwing out racist rhetoric views ... Hateful, vile speech that has no place here ever and has no place during the Super Bowl."

12News could not reach Ortega Jr. for comment.

His store, Gilbert Ortega Gallery, was one of several originally owned by Ortega Jr.'s father. The business mainly sells authentic Native American art and jewelry. 

A website associated with the galleries said they have conducted business for decades with a tradition of "love, respect, and passion."

“I think there is a love, respect, and passion for money for what is made of our people's culture, jewelry, and traditions,” Blackbird said.

Wednesday morning, Ortega Jr. reportedly tried to apologize to the performers, bringing flowers and a peace pipe. Blackbird said the pipe was from South Dakota.

In a statement, the city said, "We are sad that this incident occurred and offer our full support to those who were targeted. The city condemns this individual's racist comments - they do not represent our community."

On Thursday, Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega (no relation to Gilbert Ortega, Jr.) issued a statement showing his support for the Native performers.

"Gilbert Ortega, Jr.'s despicable language and rage directed to Native performers is reprehensible and inexcusable,” says Scottsdale Mayor David D. Ortega.

"Two years ago, when Native Art Market opened in Old Town, I welcomed them wholeheartedly to our community. Today I met in person with them to express solidarity and assure them that the City of Scottsdale is pursuing the matter to the fullest extent of the law.

"The behavior exhibited by this individual saddens and disgusts the people of our community. Last weekend, I spent many hours joining others in celebration during Scottsdale Western Week, including Parada Del Sol, and the Arizona Indian Festival at Civic Center grounds.

"At the Arizona Indian Festival, it was my sincere honor to acknowledge Tribal Nations Royalty, and speak of the greatness of Native mythology, origin creation and family culture.

"This ugly incident must be a reminder that our commitment to upholding respect, dignity and anti-discrimination must be steadfast and never wane.

"Scottsdale history is intertwined with Native peoples living respectfully on Mother Earth, under Father Sky. Together, we are one."

Watch the full video below:

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