July 18, 2015

Wyoming pageant features whites in redface

Wearing ‘red face’: A changed perspective

By Caitlin TanUnfortunately, there is one other event that makes the entire Green River Rendezvous Days controversial. The last day a play is put on called the “Pageant.” Basically it reenacts the meeting and trading of the mountain men and Native Americans.

The controversial part is the cast is made up almost entirely of white Pinedalians. The mountain men simply dress-up in buckskin hide outfits and fur hats; however, the Native American actors not only wear buckskin outfits, but their faces are painted a deep brown, almost red color, and they either wear black wigs or dye their hair crispy black.

I regret to say I have worn the latter costume in past years.

My only defense is I grew up in the town, submersed in the culture and simply did not know better. The entire town participates and people see the event as a fun, innocent celebration, and in some ways it is, but the ‘red face’ is simply taking it a step too far.

Even worse, Rendezvous involves excessive drinking; thus, many people painted-up in ‘red face’ are running around drunk, “playing” the roles of Native Americans.

Again, I painfully have to admit I used to do this.
Her conclusion:Therefore, white people dressing-up like Natives–painting their skin dark and attempting to reenact the culture–is simply a sad disgrace.

Changing my standards on this issue was incredibly difficult–I feel like I am saying goodbye to a part of myself forever; however, it is liberating to now stand for something that is morally correct and sensitive to another culture.
Comment:  Good for her!

For more on redface, see Ontario Camps Feature Mock Ceremonies and Sandler Crew "Bronzed" Native Actress.

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