Hoya Hoya, Cultural Appropriation! Or Why Suburban White Folks Shouldn't Play Indian
This video is one of those things that is so blatantly racist, the stereotypes are so deep and egregious, that I don't even know what to say. The part that gets me is that this was in 2007. This was not in the '70s. This is after Indian Guides supposedly "reformed" their ways. The scary part is these are my neighbors, my mom's students, the folks I see at the grocery store and at the beach. I am a member of a community that supports this.
So when I'm walking around wearing my powwow shirts, or driving my car with a big feather sticker on the back, my neighbors are conjuring images of these "tribes." That scares me.
People often argue that there is nothing wrong with playing Indian--that dressing up or donning headdresses does no harm. I find it hard to imagine that someone could watch that video and think that a young Native child encountering that scene would walk away unscathed.
Also note the general environment: the primitive clothes, the raging fire, the "funny Indian names," and the chanting in unison. It's all about painting Indians as uncivilized, savage people of the past. And homogenizing them into a pack of wild animals who lack language, culture, and religion. Who are as mindless as the eagles and wolves they're named after.
Once that happens, we can feel good about conquering and killing them and taking their land. They were merely beasts, like the buffalo we slaughtered, so we didn't do anything wrong. Now that they're gone, we can "honor" their savage nobility with these mock ceremonies.
It's the same impulse that leads hunters to show off stuffed animals and rugs and mounted trophies. "Look how brave and noble these animals were. And look how mighty I was to have killed them. I display their carcasses to prove they were worthy foes. In other words, to prove I'm a great hunter."
For more on the The Y-Indian Guides, see Y-Guides Still Stereotype Indians and Indian Princess "Tribes" Go Sledding.