Adrienne K of Native Appropriations writes that a non-Indian casually wearing an Indian headdress “furthers the stereotype that Native peoples are one monolithic culture, when in fact there are 500+ distinct tribes with their own cultures. It also places Native people in the historic past, as something that cannot exist in modern society. We don’t walk around in ceremonial attire everyday, but we still exist and are still Native.” She also draws attention to the deep spiritual significance of a headdress and maintains that when a non-Indian wears one “it’s just like wearing blackface.” In a post at mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com the author writes of wearing the headdress: “Unfortunately if you’re a woman, you’re thumbing your nose at our culture which explicitly disallows you to wear the headdress. … If you’re a man, it’s still not appropriate to wear one, unless you’ve actually earned it, according to your tribe (no, you cannot pretend you’ve made a new tribe etc.)”
We won’t pretend that every single Native would agree with these statements—Indians are not a monolithic culture—but certainly many, perhaps even most, would say they dislike the headdress’s status as a gimmicky costume or hipster fashion accessory. But non-Native musicians seem particularly enamored of it—here are a baker’s dozen who’ve donned the feathers:
3. Karen O
4. Ted Nugent
5. Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater
7. Stevie Ray Vaughan
9. Steve Aoki
10. Juliette & the Licks
11. 1910 Fruitgum Company
12. Dr. John
13. The Dirty Diamond
"Probably," says the headline? More like definitely.
If ICTMN included models and starlets as well as rockers, it could find dozens of examples, not just 13.
Adrienne Keene's Tumblr posting may have triggered this survey. The subject is nothing new, of course. Many of us have discussed it for years.
For more on the subject, see Eurovision Singer Performs in a Headdress and Heidi Klum in a Headdress.