I made a Native American costume for a costume party. Please ignore the horrendous quality of the actual costume itself and my shameless selfie.
“There are 565 historically, culturally, and linguistically distinct, federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States. 565 cultures routinely boiled down to a fake feather headdress or fringed t-shirt.
The fashion industry is notorious for profiting from the co-option and reproduction of cultural dress from across the globe. No culture is safe from being repackaged and sold as the latest thing. No remuneration or benefits are afforded to the communities who provide “inspiration” – communities who are often scorned for wearing ethnic items, and whose artisans struggle to make a living from authentic products.
…The marketing of inauthentic products using Native American tribal names is outlawed under the Indian Arts And Crafts Act….
…Writing from Dakota on the Racialicious website, Sasha Houston Brown, of the Santee Sioux Nation described the problem: [Cultural Appropriation] has taken Indigenous life ways and artistic expressions and trivialized and sexualized them for the sake of corporate profit … Just as our traditional homelands were stolen and expropriated without regard, so too has our very cultural identity.”…
…Cultural appropriation remains a serious problem. It is so prevalent because it replicates colonial relationships. This means that there is no space given to Native artists to counteract racist and demeaning stereotypes that substitute for their real identity.
Far from being harmless, fake feathered headdresses represent the theft of cultural identity and lost homelands. Whilst diversity at the top levels of the fashion industry is desperately needed, it will take more than this to bring about real change. Ending cultural appropriation means overturning the power structures that it mirrors.”
-The Guardian: Fake Native American clothing ranges show the darker side of fashion
“Does the photographic image impact our lives and the lives of those around us and if it does, can we use that image to encourage and inspire one another? Do something for me, try to remember the last time you saw a Native American in massive media? Is this what you saw? If it is, I wouldn’t be surprised, because between 1990 and 2000 there 5,868 blockbuster released films, 12 included, of American NDNs, ALL of them showed NDNs as: spiritual or in-tuned with nature, 10 of them as impoverished and/or beaten down by society, 10 as continually in-conflict with whites. However, the IMAGE of the professional Photographer, the Musician, the Teacher, The Doctor, they were LARGELY absent. What’s Interesting is HOW THIS image manifests itself into our psyche. You see, when this image is shown to a young Native person, they report feeling lower self-esteem and depressed about what they are able to become or would like to become. Shockingly, when shown to the white counterpart, their self-esteem is raised. If society only sees us as these images it means that our MODERN ISSUES don’t exist, nor do our efforts like schooling or economic development, through sovereignty and Nation building. How can we been seen as modern successful people if we our continually represented as the leather and feather vanishing race?-Matika Wilbur, Swinomish and Tulalip, Pacific Northwest’s leading photographers, unique as an artist and social documentarian in Indian Country. The insight, depth, and passion with which she explores the contemporary Native identity and experience are communicated through the impeccable artistry of each of her silver gelating photographs. TEDxSeattle
“These fictions create confusion when they meet reality, these fictions can also cause harm when they replace reality. Today, there are 4.1 Million American Indians in this country, and many of them [like me] are urban. In fact, New York City has 100,000 American Indian people, while here in Albuquerque there are 33,000 American Indians. Now, we do not look, act, behave or believe in the same things, in fact, there is no one way to look or act, or to be Indian. We are diverse as the five-hundred and sixty-two sovereign nations.” – Professor Nancy Marie Mithlo, Chiricahua Apache, at the TEDxABQ Women Conference speaking about Cultural Appropriation and Hyper-sexualization of American Indian Women
“Native Americans have fought hard to be allowed to have cultural identity — a basic right that was outlawed by the government until relatively recently. So yes, seeing a spray-tan sexy Pocahontas raising her hand in “hau” is more than an annoyance. It trivializes the fight that my parents and grandparents devoted their lives to. It trivializes my life and my sense of self. And I refuse to believe that any decent person would tell me to move on, to get over it, or to be flattered by it. My great-grandmother is not a Halloween costume. This shouldn’t be so hard to understand.”— Itacawin
“The problem with cultural appropriation is that it replaces the original with a copy created by the dominant culture. It dilutes the original, removes all symbolic value from it and replaces it with a ready to consume product devoid of context and meaning. Cultural appropriation, at its most extreme, is a violent form of colonization because it removes the original group behind the culture and reinforces stereotypes about that group (i.e. ALL First Nation folks are reduced to “war bonnets”, whether their culture uses them or not; all Latin@s are reduced to a stylized version of Catholicism regardless of their spirituality; etc.). The mechanism of “commodifying” a culture ends up being a tool to re-enforce [sic] racism as it reduces the people behind those cultures to a mere cartoon like representation of their realities. It’s a great way to ultimately Other and objectify entire groups of people by taking something that is dynamic and ever evolving and freezing it for a marketing photo opportunity.”- Flavia Dzodan, mycultureisnotatrend
What’s the real issue?
“Preston and Metcalfe offer nearly identical qualifiers for what they think the rules are for art and fashion to be considered authentic: They have to be made by Native Americans who are involved in their communities.
“They participate in ceremonies, they know their traditions, they know the core values of their tribe, of their nation,” Metcalfe said.
As many Native American designers see it, the issues go beyond the aesthetic or the commercial and more broadly encompass concerns about identity, cultural appropriation and institutionalized racism.
Cultural appropriation is any time one culture uses something from another, such as an artifact (a Catholic crucifix), a word (sombrero) or a style of music (rap). Most of the time the conversation is about “something that’s more like stealing,” said Richard Rogers, an intercultural-communications expert and professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
“Cultures have always borrowed, stolen, adapted, exchanged ideas,” Rogers said. “The difference is looking at the power relationships that exist between those cultures.”
The relationship between Native Americans and mainstream Americans is one of colonization and forced assimilation, he said. Now, many Native Americans feel their customs, designs and sacred objects are being compromised and disrespected anew — both chain-store retailer Urban Outfitters and high-end designer Ralph Lauren have used Native American design elements for a profit without consulting Native American people, he pointed out.” - Native style: Keeping it real
Whats even more insulting is this woman asked peoples opinion in a separate note in the Native American tag and when she didn’t like the answers she deleted it.