Les Atkins, a retired mayonnaise factory manager, plans to indulge his passion for all things American Indian full time. He’s fully immersed himself in the culture, even learning traditional sign language and dances that he performs in his garden, and plans to take his talks to schools and museums around the country.
By Caters News
Les Atkins is going to follow his dream and tour his country teaching people about the American Indian way of life.
The 65-year-old from Walsall, West Midlands, retired from his job July 31 after 15 years. He plans to spend his days dressed as an indigenous American.
On weekends, Atkins, a married father of two, would dress up in traditional clothing including a head dress that he made himself. He estimates he's spent at least £5,000 (about $8418) on his obsession over the years, and adds the actual sum is likely much higher.
"I've been obsessed with the Native American way of life ever since I started watching spaghetti Westerns in the ‘50s. They really got me interested so I started learning more,” Atkins said.
"I've visited a few reserves in Arizona and Utah. On one of my visits I was lucky enough to dance with one of the tribes—they called it to ‘shake a feather.’
British Retiree Takes Cultural Appropriation to New Awkward Level
By Simon Moya-Smith
A 65-year-old retiree from England has pledged to devote his remaining days to debunking sundry stereotypes of Native Americans.
But there is a problem–the man is a perpetuator of cultural appropriation.
Photographed in what he refers to as his “costume”–a faux feather headdress, breastplate, choker and a pipe, Les Atkins of Walsall, England, retired from his job as a mayonnaise factory manager on July 31 to become a full-fledged Native American, according to the British tabloid Mirror.
Despite visiting tribes in Arizona and Utah, his costume is pure Plains stereotyping. His headdress, breastplate, and "peace pipe" look like cheap imitations. He looks about as authentic as the cartoonish Chief Illiniwek, which means not much.
His cabinet is full of kachina-style dolls--but most of them look like cheap imitations. I don't see any that look like they were hand-carved by Hopi craftsmen. The fuzzy or feathery look suggests they were made cheaply in Asia.
He talks about the "Native American way of life" as if there's only one Native culture. Like every other ignorant wannabe in the world, he equates "Native" with "Plains." Someone this foolish has no business teaching anything to anybody.
He apparently missed every single discussion about non-Natives wearing headdresses if they haven't earned the honor. And about non-Natives practicing "redface," which is the same as blackface. He's sending the same message as every other wannabe: that Indians are primitive people of the past. That being Native is nothing more than putting on a costume, dancing and whooping, and praying to the "Great Spirit."
He even says that he'll "teach" people with his homemade costumes. In other words, he'll present himself as a generic Indian and teach generic lore. Perhaps someone in the audience will be the billionth person to conclude that Indians were nothing but colorful savages in feathers and leathers. And that they no longer exist today.