I want to keep a record of images showing people engaged in cultural appropriation of native peoples as well as some notable stories of the same, in case there is anyone who thinks this no longer happens, or wants to know what it looks like. For a post dealing with cultural appropriation, please read this.
Oooh, there is an excellent tumblr hall of shame up too, with excellent links to various articles and resources and oh so many more examples for you to check out.
Welcome to the Hall of Shame.
Stories of cultural appropriation
- Self-published “encyclopedia of Tlingit language” unrecognisable to native speakers.
- “Spiritual Warrior” kills three in his phony (and expensive) sweat-lodge.
The Native Appropriations blog and mycultureisnotatrend tumblr are also good catalogues of this sort of thing. There’s no end to the evidence, no matter how much some people deny it!
I’m working on a post that will hopefully explain this simply to people, with a tonne of references including those you’ve mentioned. So much has been written about this and I hope people will check some of it out, learn…and stop doing this sort of thing.
I totally get this. Appropriating headdresses etc. in the manner of the photos above is disgusting and inappropriate. I have tried to convince other Caucasian people, if they want to go back to an Earth based religion, to look back into their own history. There are hundreds if not thousands of organizations who are doing precisely that. And yes, we use feathers and yes, we paint our bodies, but not in the same way you do and “borrowing” is totally unnecessary.
That is nothing. On HBO there is a tv series called Real Sex. I did see this episode (not that I am a regular watcher oops) and it focused on some guy teaching about the “totems of a penis”. It was so bizarre and such a total bastardization of Native Teachings. Each totem linked to a position or something like that. http://www.hbo.com/#/schedule/series/REAL+SEX/PMRS161
How about a Hall of Fame too? The appropriate photos? The good ones? I’m a non-native, and I learn by example. So show me what’s good out there, too! 🙂
I could put up a tonne of photos of real-life natives in our regular outfits, but would it tell you what is appropriate? We dress in a lot of different ways, most of them unremarkablably ‘mainstream’. I could put up pictures of non-natives in beaded jackets and moccasins (which I’m okay with if they are made by natives), but I think it’s more effective to talk about the issues if you want to know what’s appropriate.
I guess I’m looking for positives in all of this. I think it’s ok to put up what’s wrong out there, but how about all the first nations success stories? The metis winners? The inuit inventors? Your blog is great, I’m learning a lot, and maybe this isn’t the place for it, but I always like stories of inspiration. And how great to have people sharing the news of someone who did well despite their circumstances. Or because of!
Perhaps a naive outlook. Thanks for all you do to educate and share with the rest of the world.
I’ve put up a post dealing more explicitly with cultural appropriation that might fit what you’re looking for:)
Looks like the turkey feather industry is booming!
I clicked through a bunch of the links to try to answer a simple question: is this fad largely overseas, or is this actually happening in Canada and the U.S.?
One of the misc. scrawny girls is apparently a resident of Montreal, and the slender gentleman four rows down from the top (center column) with his shirt unbuttoned is actually a university student in Toronto (and this factoid is evident because he runs his own fashion blog… largely featuring photographs of himself in various forms of attire, http://lookbook.nu/bobbyraffin). Somehow, I’m more offended because he lives in Toronto.
This is not a comprehensive survey. I assume that the ones explicitly identified with the Glastonbury music festival are British and I assume the photograph of Drew Barrymore is… Drew Barrymore.
As always, the fundamental moral to the story is that there is no lower limit to human intelligence, and there is no lowest common denominator to bad taste; but I also found the experience of clicking through to many of the source blogs sort of disconcerting and depressing. Many of these people take photographs of themselves eating breakfast, etc., so you’re really confronted with both the triviality of their public lives, and their own sense of self-importance in posting photographs of themselves smoking cigarettes and getting drunk… but they certainly don’t do that primarily or exclusively when they’re dressing up in First Nations costumes.
Inevitable sequel: somebody has to make a documentary film finding the factory in China where they’re mass-producing these imitation headdresses… the story writes itself from there.
If people are wondering why this trend is so prevalent and unfortunately enduring (because as you can see, some of these pictures are quite old), try reading the comments on this blog, where the artist has chosen to represent her work with a non-native woman in a Plains culture headdress. It’s a very telling conversation. Those of us who even notice these things and dare comment, are hysterical, while those who put in the considerable effort to produce these images…are innocent and should not be made to think of what they are doing.
It’s easy to say a lot about this, but I’ll try to be brief.
First, it’s interesting that your link above (to “irocksowhat”) is now a dead end; I don’t know if they deleted that blog post (in shame?) or if they just re-organized the website.
Secondly, while the older images (from 50 years ago, or more) provide an interesting contrast, they’re not part of the same phenomenon of fashion magazines and teenagers with digital cameras attempting to emulate fashion magazines putting on head-dresses. Based on the survey above (and even based on your linked-to sources) you would think that there weren’t any obese people participating in this fad. However, the fad is obviously linked to booze, house parties, outdoor rock concerts, and a certain stratum of lowbrow teenage-through-twentysomething recreation. I’m not making excuses for this, I’m just describing the thing: the evidence before us is largely the product of participants photographing themselves and posting it on the internet, so it is fair to judge them as a demographic accordingly…
…but, as I say, I wonder at the extent to which this is a British phenomenon, as opposed to an American one… clearly, these images are not pouring in from Brazil, nor Japan (although I could have just jinxed it, and, for all I know, the same fad could catch on there next). It also deserves to be said that this is one fad that hasn’t originated in urban black culture: I don’t think I’ve seen a single image of an American black wearing a feathered headdress, nor have any of the images linked this phenomenon to hip-hop or rap culture in any way (i.e., neither Glastonbury nor Drew Barrymore represent/reflect urban black cultural trends… nor does Peta Todd for that matter… nor does Bobby Raffin).
Although these are only broad generalizations, they are based on hundreds of images from hundreds of contributors, and they are interesting in their broad outlines: this isn’t a fad that started with urban blacks, nor have I even seen an hispanic person standing in the background of any of the photographs taken at house parties. Nor does it on the runways of Milan, and, from what I can see, it didn’t start in Paris or Berlin, either. It is actually pretty rare to find a fad that is (seemingly) quite so white as Carr’s Table Water biscuits.
The blog that was represented by a non-native woman in a headdress was indeed changed to an equally well-drawn, but less offensive picture. The blog owner has however stated that she felt she did nothing wrong and that she was bullied into this decision.
I’ve included the older pictures for a few reasons. I don’t want to lose track of them, and I think it’s important that people see this is not just a new trend, although as you’ve noted, the way in which it plays out is changed somewhat. Many people like to bring up Cher or the Village People and ask, “well jeez, are you yelling at them about it too?” It’s an attempt to use a “they did it first” argument and I wanted to make it clear that it wasn’t okay when they did it either.
The photos one comes across are pretty evenly split between ‘fashion shoots’ and ‘self-portraits’ with a heady dose of tattoos and clothing for variety. The self-portraits definitely out-number the fashion shoots, and I have very sparingly included advertisement ‘costume’ pictures because otherwise, those would outnumber everything else.
I am concerned with fashion shoots and self-portraits both, but for different reasons. I think that the two are indeed linked and that in some cases, people wear these things because they are emulating apparently acceptable fashions. ‘Hamming it up’ seems to be the more prevalent motivator when it comes to the self-portraits however. There is a major ‘costume’ factor to those pictures. While these people will likely vehemently disagree one can be offended by a ‘costume’, at least they aren’t pretending they are honouring native culture and its (appropriated and falsified) beauty. The fashion shots are very much about that so called appreciation, and that bothers me much more.
There is a truly awful South Korean video by MC Mong called “Indian Boy” to give you an example of costuming outside of the anglosphere. Beyond Buckskin recently followed up on the headdress issue and ended with a video by Dallas Goldtooth (one of the 1491s) on a recent experience he had with a latino salesperson wearing a headdress. Link here (yours truly gets a mention in the article, which is undeniably exciting!).
So while the photographic evidence suggests this is a predominately settler phenomenon, as well as being a strange fascination in Europe and Scandinavia, native appropriation is not confined so easily. However, there is a strong ‘individual freedom’ component involved which comes up again and again in the conversations that is very based in ‘western liberalism’ and I think that explains a lot.
So glad I found this blog !!!!!!!