Entertainment Music US band cancel Sunrise appearance over Stolen Generation controversy

US band cancel Sunrise appearance over Stolen Generation controversy

Portugal. The Man are in Australia for Groovin The Moo. Photo: Facebook: Portugal. The Man/Maclay Heriot
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

American band Portugal. The Man cancelled an appearance on Channel Seven’s breakfast program Sunrise on Wednesday because of a recent segment in which an all-white panel discussed the merits of removing indigenous children from their families.

The Alaskan band, whose song Feel It Still topped charts around the world last year and who won a Grammy earlier this year, said they felt problems of indigenous disadvantage were “only being amplified” by the kinds of statements made on the program.

“We come from rural Alaska and hold very close to our hearts the indigenous people of our home,” the group said on Twitter.

The breakfast show earned widespread condemnation last month for its “hot topics” chat, which featured commentator Prue MacSween, Sunrise co-host Samantha Armytage and Brisbane radio personality Ben Davis.

During the segment, which was responding to a call from Children’s Minister David Gillespie for more “open adoptions” of indigenous children, MacSween said removing at-risk children from their homes was a “no brainer”.

“Just like the first Stolen Generation, where a lot of children were taken because it was for their wellbeing, we need to do it again,” MacSween said.

Protest outside Channel 7's Sunrise studios
Protesters gather outside the Channel 7 studio following comments about the Stolen Generation. Photo: AAP

Days later, more than 100 protesters gathered outside Channel Seven’s Martin Place headquarters as the show was on air.

Nat Heath, an Aboriginal early education worker who was at the protest, told the ABC at the time the issue was broader than a breakfast TV show.

“Aboriginal people have basically just had enough of white people speaking for us and not letting us have a voice,” he said.

Protesters chanted and banged on the glass outside the Sunrise studio, though the network used a “generic backdrop” so those gathered outside could not be seen on the broadcast.

Portugal. The Man is in Australia for the Groovin The Moo festival dates and a run of side shows.