December 25, 2010

Chieftain's Challenge and Wargle

We get e-mail:Hi, I am writing about 2 cultural appropriations in video games I've seen recently. Both of them are perpetuating the stereotype of the "native chieftain/warrior with headdress."

The first one is from Team Fortress 2: Chieftain's Challenge. Not only it is a headdress worn as an cosmetic item, but it is a commodity to be traded and sold (in TF2, hats are rare cosmetic items that can be traded for). I find this caricature of a Native chief deeply offensive.
The second one is the Pokemon Wargle. A red, white and blue eagle with feathers representing a headdress, with "war" in its name. "War + eagle," again perpetuating the Native warrior stereotype. Combining Natives with their American oppressors--abhorrent.

Wilbur Fisher

Comment:  Thanks for writing, Wilbur. I think you nailed the problems with these items.

For more on the subject, see Video Games Featuring Indians.


Anonymous said...

On the page for the team fortress "hat" it states that the Chieftains challenge "appears as a stereotypical Native American war bonnet with Team Fortress 2 logos painted onto the side buttons. "
And goes on into the trivia section


* The traditional headdress was worn by indigenous people across the Great Plains of North America.
* Feathers were earned through completing good deeds, whether it be for the community or in battle. Those who had earned enough to make a full headdress were very honored.

Anonymous said...

And then there is the Carouser's Capotain

Anonymous said...

Well, we'll see if 4kids makes a reference to "generic Native Americans" in their dub. Which, knowing 4kids, all anime takes place in America anyway.

(Yes, I know, parts of Shaman King really do take place in America, but still...)

BTW, speaking of Shaman King, your opinion?

Rob said...

I don't know anything about Shaman King. I'm not a video game expert.

I checked its Wikipedia entry:

I don't see anything specifically Native. Since Siberians originated the shaman concept, I can't fault the Japanese for using it.

Anonymous said...

But Shaman King's an anime...

WARNING: Spoilers, such as that HOLY SHIT YOH LOSES, follow.

The backstory is that basically, every 500 years, this comet comes toward Earth, so all the world's shamans go to a pueblo to have a tournament to see who can become one with the Great Spirit. Fine. Last quincentennial's winner was reincarnated as twins, Hao and Yoh Asakura. Standard good/evil twin thing, but Hao's motives are more complex: He sees humanity as evil. But he must reunite with Yoh in order to achieve ultimate power. An interesting thing is that most of the Indians are all extremely tall mesomorphs. You know, because Indians in the Southwest are known for being tall. Anyway, the Indians have the winners in Tokyo board a plane, then drop them in the middle of the Southwest so they'll have to find their way to the village. At which time they fly back to Japan to complete the tournament.

Amazingly, it's the only series 4kids didn't macekre, despite being the only series that is technically asking for it, having a whole story arc take place in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

Wargle's new American name is Braviary.

There are actually several other Indian-themed mons:

Zapdos: Bird of lightning.
Natu and Xatu: Xatu looks like the top of a totem pole. They're based on quetzals, though.
Sigilyph: Based on the Nazca lines.