June 01, 2010

Indian headdresses at Sasquatch!

Sasquatch! Sunday:  Anyone Else a Little Taken Aback By All the Warpaint and Feathers?

By Chris KornelisWe are, after all, in an area of the country rich with Native American heritage, and the outfits du jour at Sasquatch! this year appears to be anything related to the kind of American Indian image painted by white oppressors of Native Americans. I understand we still live in the world of Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins, but this seems like a step backward, right?

Among the responses I got when I asked those dressed up what the deal was:

"It's what we're about."

"Why not?"

"Chief Seattle, baby! Chief Seattle!"

Adrienne Keene of Native Appropriations comments:Thanks for the stereotypical war whoop face, because it was unclear you were being insensitive solely by your mess of a headdress.

I don't know if it's a step backward as much as bringing to light something that never went away. These incidences have been happening for years-decades-centuries, but it wasn't considered to be the ultimate in trendy or counter culture until more recently. To me, the responses when directly questioned show the absolute ignorance of the issues with wearing a headdress.
Comment:  As far as I know, Chief Seattle didn't wear any headdress. Invoking a Pacific Northwest Indian as an excuse to dress up as a Plains Indian is plain stupid. It's about like dressing up as the Pope and saying, "Queen Elizabeth, baby! Queen Elizabeth!"

Again, you don't have to go more than skin-deep to find that the people "honoring" Indians are completely ignorant of them. Again, these people are "honoring" their fictional, romantic images of Indians, not real Indians. The correct label for that is stereotyping.

For more examples of hipster headdresses, see Yale Grads Wear "Silly" Headdresses, Kesha Goes Tribal at Bamboozle, and White Girls Play Indian at Powwow. For more on why the practice is wrong, see Idiot's Guide for Dudesons Defenders, What's So Wrong About Kesha?, and Why Hipster Headdresses Aren't Okay.

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