Early Sunday morning I positioned myself on the side of the road, ready to capture what I figured would be a few rogue headdresses. I quickly spotted one, then another, and another...and before I knew it, I had to stop because there were just too many and it was getting redundant. My album on my computer has 53 pictures, and that was in about the course of an hour and a half. Yikes.
If this surge is indeed happening, I'm not sure what's causing it. But I'll speculate that every example of socially-accepted stereotyping--The Dudesons, South Park, the Mardi Gras Indians, Kesha, et al.--makes it safer and "cooler" to appropriate Native culture yourself. "Everyone else is doing it," idiots think, "so it must be okay. I want to be hip, so I'll pretend to be an Indian too."
The effects of this are obvious--to me, at least. When everyone can be an "Indian," it threatens whatever makes Native cultures special and unique. Indians rightly fear becoming even more like cavemen and pirates--i.e., cartoon characters from the past--than they are now.
Imagine Native children trying to assert their identity while surrounded by hipsters in headdresses. "You're Indians?" the hipsters might say. "We're Indians too!" A typical child would hide in embarrassment and shame. Who wants to be associated with capering clowns in phony Plains costumes?
In short, this is what happens when we let Native stereotyping run rampant. Hence the need for vigilance against the problem.
For more on the subject, see White Girls Play Indian at Powwow and Indian Headdresses at Coachella.
Below: "We're rough 'n' tough like primitive savages! We're wild and out of control! How cool is that?!"