November 22, 2011

Robotic's "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party"

'Tis the season for offensively themed Halloween and Thanksgiving parties. Another one is raising a stir in Oklahoma, the heart of Indian country.

The ad reads: "Special Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party!!" It's accompanied by a photo of a young woman, apparently non-Indian, in a Plains headdress, wearing a slinky dress, and smoking a cigarette. Apparently that combination makes her the epitome of cool.

An alert went out on this party Monday on Facebook and the response was immediate. Some reactions:OMG. That's terrible. Right here in Oklahoma too.

What a bunch of insensitive jerks. Who are the promoters? I think I need to make some phone calls tomorrow. Hey ya'll don't just spread the word, CALL, EMAIL and then SHOW UP! Mvto

Uuuuigggghhhh, really!?!?

Holy butt crack they must be crazy in Oklahoma to do this.

Woh! I'm speechless!

ugh. UGH.
Regular readers already know why this is offensive. The misappropriation of honored headdresses usually reserved for chiefs. The sexualization of Native women and non-Natives pretending to be them. The homogenization of the Wampanaog Indians, who met the Pilgrims, and all other Indians. The ignorance of the cruelties done to the Wampanoag by the Pilgrims soon after the first Thanksgiving.

What are they going to do for the party's big finish: reenact the Mystic River Massacre of 1637? Good times!

This is very much like holding a Nazis and Jews party. Would that be acceptable if it were set in the time before Kristallnacht and Auschwitz? I don't think so.

To reiterate the obvious:

  • The Wampanoags didn't dress like Plains Indians then. Now they wear shirts and pants like everyone else--not headdresses, buckskin outfits, or loincloths.

  • Many Indians have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. They rightly see it as the beginning of the Anglo-American genocide against their people.

  • Any party that ignores these points is grossly insensitive and arguably racist.

    The response so far

    People have begun e-mailing and calling the organizers. So far they seem to be rude and unresponsive. My thoughts on that:

    Alerting the organizers doesn't necessarily work. They get defensive about their "rights"--i.e., their "right" to be racist.

    Trying contacting the bar owners and the sponsors (the five logos listed at the bottom). Also try contacting the local media and public officials, especially if there's a human rights commission.

    Let everyone know you're calling them out on their racism. Often some or all of them can't take the public pressure and will fold.

    To contact the offenders:

    Kamp's Bar
    1310 NW 25 Oklahoma City, OK 73106
    (405) 524-2251

    550 Monica Circle, Suite 201
    Corona, CA 92880
    Phone: 866-322-4466 Ext. 585

    For similarly offensive parties, see:

    "Drink like an Indian" at Station 280
    UC Irvine's "Pilgrims and Indians Party"
    Bedlam's "PocaHotAss" party

    Below:  More hipsters dressing up in redface pretending to be Indians acting as if they're cool.


    Tricknology said...

    We also have a petition going around:

    Tricknology said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ladylush said...

    Great post. Im going to pass it around, especially after a twitter conversation I had with Bryan Peace last night... Thanks!

    Kathryn said...

    Here is one of Kamp's Deli apologizing.

    Kamp's Deli "we apologize for the flyer. Wasn't meant to be derogatory towards Pilgrims or Native Americans. I know in elementary, all the kids get dressed up for Thanksgiving."

    D said...

    To simply label the promoters as racist is small minded. Miseducated would be more correct. If you really would like to make a difference then send people out to these events with pamphlets saying "this is what really happened. And this is what you were taught. Protesting doesn't raise peoples awareness near as well as putting people on the street. Not being rude. But being informational. In that way maybe less people would want to throw parties people look on as deragatory. Sharing with love gets more attention than attacking with hate.

    Anonymous said...

    Opinion: When you have Indian artists selling headdresses to the public online ... I'm afraid as a culture... you have lost the right to call "fowl".

    Anonymous said...


    ed crunk said...

    I'm one of the promoters... I'm part creek Indian, does this make me racist against myself?

    Anonymous said...

    Shut up, Ed. Go back to jerking off to glen beck.

    e. blüm said...

    Nobody cares. Around here (Oklahoma City) nobody cares. This isn't offensive. It doesn't even attract a big enough audience to be called "mainstream". You are calling more attention to it than anybody else in the area would. This article is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Anonymous said...

    What a bunch of shit. Those that are offended WANT to be offended. You want to talk about racism like you know what's up. How many of you hypocrites are actively seeking out the removal of all sports names and mascots that have shit to do with Indians? None of you? Really? That's shocking. You are pathetic. You talk about solidarity and unity and understanding of ones cultures, but then tell someone like Ed to to jerk of to Beck? Really? You people make me sick.
    Is the image, racist? FUCK. NO.
    Learn what racism means, you fucking apples. Yeah, you like that? Most of your bitching and moaning like this is the worst thing you have ever seen are mother fucking apples. You know what that means right? I am 100% Creek. I embrace my culture and my heritage.
    When people want to throw a party and come together in unity in the name of my people, so be it.
    You want so badly for people to be racist. You act like this and you give us ALL a bad name.
    Was the image offensive?
    I could see how some may see it that way, but it surely is not racist. And to label these people as such not only hurts them personally, but also professionally.
    You want equality and understanding but only if it's on your terms.
    You embarrass me.
    As my father would say, "GET OVER IT".
    Too many things in life are hard and difficult. This should not be one of them.
    Take this passion and this anger and this vindictiveness and point it in the RIGHT direction.
    What has Obama done for us?
    What has the government done for us?
    You want to pick on a bunch of kids because they are easy targets?
    Fuck you.

    Anonymous said...

    Ah an indignant white man pointing fingers at other white people for being "wrong". Look here Rob. In Oklahoma ANY girl with dark hair like that in the picture is very likely has several Native American ancestors. Your racist generalization that she is "white" is... well racist. As a Native American from Oklahoma myself... I'm well aware that theme parties such as these in elementary school teach children that there can be racial unity before they even understand what "race" is. That said... find a legitimate reason to be indignant about something. This is ridiculous. Native Americans don't need YOU to be noisy about issues that don't matter, it lessens the importance of real issues. Beyond that, calling people hipsters while trying to rally others around some silly "cause" is a pretty hipster thing to do.

    zakk yahola said...

    im native American and ive been going there for nearly two years and been to alot of the theme parties and for everyone to make a big deal over a "white girl" in a photo portraying a native woman everyone is assuming shes white you have no idea what she is your all judging by her skin color and your making a big deal over them and judging them for that whats the difference from them and you at this point i may be only 19 but i know that you people are in the wrong for jumping down their throats and i see its funny that its perfectly fine for people to dress up as native Americans and every other culture on Halloween i think if anything thats a bigger mockery of my and everyone else's heritage but some stupid photo of a model you people are really retarted for this there is so much more stuff i could say like you people find it perfectly fine for white people to act black i find it hysterical that all of this is over a stupid fu***** photo like come on people really we got so much more stuff to worry about but a photo thats just down right idiotic and everyone of the people that promote and run robotic Wednesday is like family to me so dont judge them like your judging the girl in the photo you dont know the girls heritage so dont judge them for being racist

    Tiffany said...

    Standing ovation to the comment ending with "Fuck you. Morons."

    P.C. is something people are when they feel like actually caring is too messy. This article makes Indians look like whiny, bitter, uptight crybaby bitches . When in fact, most are awesome people who don't give a shit about this. I'm in Oklahoma, we don't cry about this stuff. We party on Wednesday, eat turkey on Thursday and shop on Friday. It's fucking Thanksgiving. If you don't like what something stands for, change its meeting in your house and enjoy a day off work with your family. Smile, you prick.

    Matt Neighbors said...

    When is the Nazi party?!? I'm so there!

    dmarks said...

    I can't see why anyone even brings up "P.C." This is about nothing other than rather strong racism.

    Michael New said...

    dressing up is offensive? so if i dress up as a friggin drug lord would you defend them to? no one is taking the "honor" out of the native americans by wearing head dresses. your ridiculous for taking our themed dance night out of proportion. its a business. why dont you direct your attention on our goverment and how screwed up it is. dont protest this business helping people have a good time. yeah we party BUT thanks to KAMPS were doing in a safe environment.

    jaine said...

    wow, Rob you sure stirred the hornets nest with this post.

    @Zakk, your post would be easier to read with sentences. Just sayin

    To the other abusive posts with poor language - I think you should look in the mirror before advising anybody to get over anything. If you want to engage in debate people will take you seriously if you speak of the issues and not just spew lots of verbal abuse. I'm guessing you don't care, you just wanted to rant. "What you are talking about doesn't effect me, so get over it"

    Dale Sams said...

    As usual I'm late to the party on this.

    Allow me to explain how these things always turn out. The actual image itself is fairly innocuous. at least the one of the girl in the headdress smoking. I haven't seen any others.

    Then what should happen is that someone like bluecorn politely references that the image is a little distasteful, make some snark perhaps and we all move on. That's what should happen. It's not like this is a 50's image of Chief Wahoo. or even that 'Indian mascot boy' OU used to have.

    On a scale of offensive images, this is a 2 out of 10 at best.

    What REALLY happens is that a bunch of people scream RACIST. When it isn't. It's just a little distasteful at best.

    But the worst part is what happens next. All the idiots who are tired of having their right to say 'that's gay' or say 'retard' curtailed reflexively react and trot out their 1/16th Indian blue cards to say how there's not a damn thing wrong with "fill in the fucking blank". It happens when someone says squaw. It happens when we talk about sports images, and it happens whenever someone has a 'cowboys and indians' theme party.

    Bluecorn is dead on when they say "We look forward to 'Nazis and Jews night.'" Hell, you can use the swastika for partys folks!

    It is a slightly distateful pic folks, and people have a right to be offended. Acknowledge it and move on. I think Kamps response is perfect. They don't even have to apologize. 'No offense was intended' is the perfect response.

    Anonymous said...

    @Matt: There are still Nazi political parties, but only the more trollish ones actually call themselves Nazis. Most take a name like Nationalist Party or National Party or something along those lines.

    I could see the Nazi bartender saying "No money? You'll have to work for your drinks then." and then pointing to the sign that says "Arbeit macht Frei".

    dmarks said...

    Anon said: "What REALLY happens is that a bunch of people scream RACIST. When it isn't. It's just a little distasteful at best."

    It's quite racist, and easily proven so. To deny this would be out of ignorance, or racism on your own part. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and hope you get educated on the subject. This web site has lots of material on the racism of these stereotypes. That's racism, yes. Not the "mild distaste" of this.