April 20, 2009

Indian wannabes in Turkish club

A European correspondent writes:Hi Rob.

I got sick after I saw a Facebook page made by a man with the name Kızılderili Reisi. He's from Turkey. Search on his name.

Hmmm. He's a bit strange, coz he calls himself Indian Native Chief, and on every picture he got in his photoalbum he is dressed up as an native american, with a pipe and wearing a Chief bonnet. Hmm...no...I think its not suitable, and that's my opinion. He also gots lots of pictures with children dressed up with chief bonnet and their smoking the pipe. I think it's a children club or some kind of an interest club.

So what do you think?
Kızılderili Reisi's Photos--MYDREAMDANCA (Latin Dans Gurubu)

Comment:  It looks like a regular cowboys 'n' Indians club or cafe to me. Not necessarily a children's club.

It's obviously stereotypical and stupid. A bunch of wannabes dressing up as Plains Indians. Misusing chiefs' headdresses and peace pipes. With no awareness of the diversity of Indian cultures or the existence of Indian tribes today.

I'd say these phony Indians are Turkeys, but it would be wrong. <g>

We know Europeans are fascinated by their stereotypical notions of noble savages living in the romantic past. So this "club" is nothing new. There are probably lots of them in Germany and elsewhere.

But some people claim there's an Indian-Turk connection--that Indians are actually descended from Turks. If this is an example of that, it's worse than just stupid. It's potentially misinforming people about the basic nature of Native Americans.

For more on the subject, see Germans = "Only Real Indians"? and The Hobby of Being Indian.


Anonymous said...

I don't think it's necessarily racist and is probably not ill-intentioned. Some people, myself included, are interested in and enthusiastic about native culture. They may not be well educated about it, or maybe they are. Certainly it looks like the items he has acquired were made by native people (and if they're weren't, there are plenty that are) so at least some native people actually encourage this enthusiasm and have in fact turned it into a business.

They say imitation is the purest form of flattery. People who are interested in native culture should be seen as an opportunity to educate people about real native issues.

In fact, the original poster seems to have something against Turks. I'd be more worried about that.

Unknown said...

I had to stop myself from forwarding my 1st response to Anon's reply to this post, have a cup of tea and begin again. To simply explain away the sin of what groups like this do is beyond me.

The commercialization and the fetishization of culture and tradition is a given in the world we live in, but the groups that appropriate
traditions and customs that they have no connection with without respectful investigation and respectful representation are beyond me.

I don't think any culture appreciates the theft and bastardization of their traditions, even when they themselves are selling it. I don't have any answers just a lot of questions regarding our individual behavior.

There has a way to honor and admire others without perpetuating stereotypes in an attempt to own what one believes those they admire are or should be?

There has to be a way to admire and honor without continuing to promote stereotypes that people who are of those cultures are continually struggling against and with?

Before we adopt and wear what is not ours perhaps we should ask ourselves why we feel we must and what we hope to gain by doing it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: People who are interested in native culture should be seen as an opportunity to educate people about real native issues.

Yes, But the worst thing you can do, is to dress up in native clothes and act like your NATIVE. And you know the story about the Native american pipe. Its not to show off or smoke weed (like the white 60s and 70s generation did).

The sacred pipe is a spiritual artifact, a religious altar, always to be treated with respect and care, and used only in a sacred manner. When it is put together with the stem it is sacred.

So THE BEST thing is to ask a REAL native american if someone can come to this club, or whatever.... and show them THE REAL NATIVE WAY.

Native Power said...

I wish this type of activity was limited to only Europe. Unfortunately, many foolish Americans do the same. Near where I currently live there is a group of new age Indian wannabees who appeared at my daughters school, in regalia, drumming, singing, and dancing.

It took a lot of conversation for my daughter to understand this behavior from people who identified themselves to her as non-Indians. It is a sad affair to believe the school supported this offensive behavior. That's Tax Money at work, spreading stereotypes, and misusing cultural traditions.

What do you think of that?

dmarks said...

Jasons said: "Near where I currently live there is a group of new age Indian wannabees who appeared at my daughters school, in regalia, drumming, singing, and dancing."

Is this a public school?

dmarks said...

And, everyone except for the first commenter had excellent comments. If the most base stereotype of an Indian is a good thing, would you say the same thing if a caucasian wanted to "honor" and "flatter" sub-saharan Africans by hoisting a spear and smearing black makeup on his face? I see no difference.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I (the original anon commenter) got quite a reaction! I agree with a lot of you that a lot of unthinking imitation is exploitative and generally unhelpful, but I don't think any of of us has enough information about this person to judge. For all we know he knows the history or even the makers of these ceremonial items. Maybe he's a member of an indigenous group himself. Or maybe he's just a jackass.

What bothered me about the post was the automatic assumptions that this person is 'bad'. There is so much suspicion and hostility about non-natives interested in native culture. Of course this is a result of a legacy of exploitation. But it closes off the conversation to people who really want to understand and benefit from native culture and native values. I have learned Kwakwaka'wakw songs as a white person, from a white person, that was taught those songs and given the right to pass them on. This was the start of my interest in native culture, and it caused me to go out and spend time learning for myself directly from native people.

I value this as a part of my own identity now, and now I'm doing what I can to give back to native communities. But I started off like the guy in the picture, drawn to the stereotypes.

Of all the real problems native Americans face now (poverty, dying languages, drugs & alcohol, lack of justice in Indian country), I'd say that cultural appropriation is near the bottom of the list, and fortunately tribal leaders are focused on those issues and not worrying so much about a guy in Turkey with an impressive collection of ceremonial items.

Unknown said...

Again I ask the question - why do you feel that you must understand or benefit from another's culture?

Can you see the peoples of the cultures in the round as a culture that is evolving and still here and more than negative stereotypes most of us consider when we think of Indians?

Does what you do continue to perpetuate those stereotypes or support the growth of those who can claim it?

Have you investigated and invested in understanding the culture and background you were born into? Do you understand it's indigenous beliefs and roots, even if those roots are buried beneath history that distorts them? Do you see that perhaps we share similar stories and that though there is a need for sharing "borrowing" and "owning" what isn't yours in this life time might prevent you from seeing what truly is yours?

Just things to consider when donning a feathers and warpaint instead of (insert your cultures stereotypical garments or accoutrements)

dmarks said...

Anon1: I can see a couple of your points:

(1) that he might be an actual Native American? Yes, interesting, but unlikely.

(2) That he collected a bunch of authentic artifacts? Well, I understand that it is in bad taste to wear a feather bonnet like that, and perhaps a cultural affront to actual Natives (based on my knowledge of pow-wow customs). Perhaps it would be like a non-Catholic, non-bishop dressing up like a bishop and grinning for photos. Well, you can sure understand how that would offend Catholics, wouldn't you? Then why would it not offend Natives to see someone else dressing up in culturally-treasured regalia like that just for yucks?

Also, where is the material from the original poster that implies "something against Turks"?

Simone: I agree with your points, but pause at the words "borrowing" or "owning", which don't apply the best to ideas, which defy ownership and proliferate wildly. "Misrepresenting" is a word that is closer to what I think is going on. Whether or not ideas can be "owned" or "borrowed" (can you "give" an idea back??) there is much less question about whether or not a play-Indian is trying to be something he is not.

Unknown said...

When I refer to borrowing or owning I am not referring to an idea, but to traditions and beliefs that manifest themselves in physical expression, which is the only way we are aware of ideas anyway.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts/comments. I promise not to claim them - lol -

Stephen IronMan McNatt said...

Hello great article by the way. I am American Indian Living here in Sweden and I am in an on going war to stop Wannabes like this man and others I have already shut down 5 new age resorts here in Sweden that were stealing Our peoples culture for there own profit. fake medicine men or Shaman ( by the way if some one says thay are an indian shaman RUN away fast we dont use that word and never have),fake ndns and fake sweat lodges. This pisses me off so much to see what is going on I could scream. I do enjoy people here that want to learn more about my people and our culture and I lecture and teach here about that for a living. people can honor us just by respecting us I personally teach people how to dance or how to play the flute and some I have taught here have gone to powwows back in the USA and said up front they are Swedish and are dancing in honor of our people this is not the actions of a wannabe they are respecting us by not claming something they are not. But what that FREAK THIEF in Turkey is doing is is an insult. Just look at his TV interviews he has done That alone makes me want to go to Turkey and strip him of everything he has that is Of Our great peoples he is an insult to us all and slaps all of us in the face with his actions. Stephen IronMan McNatt Blood tribe Kainai nations ,Blackfeet Confederation