September 13, 2015

Company Says Indian Mascots Are Reason They Can Sell Headdresses

By Sheena Louise RoetmanNovum Crafts, according to its website, is a group of indigenous artists from Bali who make and sell “authentic looking replicas” of Native American headdresses, or war bonnets, which sell from $69 to $139.

There a couple pages on the website that address cultural appropriation and the meaning of a headdress. The example of the Seminole Tribe of Florida's co-signing of the Florida State Seminole mascot, as well as Saginaw Chippewa's now-revoked permission for Central Michigan University to use Native mascots, are specifically cited in these explanations.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington NFL team are all also specifically identified and used as justification for appropriation.

The site explains that the teams that use this imagery are simply “implying: ‘We will win! We are the braves, we are chiefs, we will fight until you are defeated.’ How is it offensive to attribute such desirable characteristics of bravery, valor, honor and courage to known objects or symbols from the Native Americans?”
Comment:  This company is mildly interesting for a few reasons:

  • They own I never thought about who might own the URL, if anyone.

  • They give a long, specious rationale for misappropriating and selling headdresses. They know they're violating Native beliefs but do it anyway.

  • They claim to be a collective of indigenous (Balinese) artists. But there are hints that the models, the photographer(s), and perhaps the owners are located in the US. If Asian workers are involved, they may be hired hands.

  • For more on the subject, see Los Angeles Magazine's "Going Native" and Hockey Ad Features Stereotypical "Indians."

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