Celebrity Trick or Treat: Indian Costume Edition


Another Halloween, another rash of racially insensitive costumes.

While it appears that awareness to "the costume issue" may be spreading, that didn't stop at least a couple of celebrities from playing Indian this year.

Of course, they're just a reflection of the culture -- America is soaking in the Indian-as-costume idea, everything from the Pocahottie to dog costumes confirming the notion that dressing up as an Indian is no different from dressing as a pirate. Never mind the fact that one is a race of people and the other is an occupation -- Halloween's just about having fun, isn't it?

For anyone who may not be familiar with this issue, we suggest watching a couple recent (and controversial) videos by the 1491s. But we'll also sum up the logic, which goes like this: If it's ok for a white person to pretend to be an Indian on Halloween, then it's ok to make a Halloween costume out of someone's race. And if it's ok to make a Halloween costume out of someone's race, then it's ok for a white person to pretend to be African American on Halloween. But American society has -- fortunately -- decided that it's not ok for a white person to pretend to be African American as a costume, and finds such representations as blackface to be racist and unacceptable.

And yet Indian costumes are still around. In fact, you can probably get a good deal on one, along with the sexy nurse, wolfman and Green Lantern getups currently going for half price at your local costume shop.

We don't relish playing costume cops, but the issue won't go away. Every year, people in the public eye do this. And every year, when Natives try to explain why this isn't cool, why an Indian costume has a cultural and racial meaning that a pirate costume does not, the same arguments about political correctness run amok unfold. There is simply a massive failure to grasp the concept that trick-or-treating dressed as "an Indian" is as racist as trick-or-treating dressed as "an Asian" or "a black person."

So, joining the ranks of celebrity Indian impersonators like Russell Brand and Kourtney Kardashian, we have:

Aubrey O'Day
The ex-Danity Kane singer Tweeted the picture below with the caption "I'm a lil Indian girl for the festivities tonight! I made my entire costume, including headdress!"

Aubrey O'Day wearing Indian costume for Halloween

River Viiperi
River is a model; he's also the boyfriend of Paris Hilton, who posted the photo below before the couple headed to the Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion. Paris famously wore a malfunction-prone Indian princess costume to the same party two years ago.

River Viiperi wearing Indian costume for Halloween with Paris Hilton

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marten's picture
Submitted by marten on
They do look stupid, and it's up to Indians to educate them. They seem to target the weakest ethnic group, because they don't fear retaliation. Thank you INDIAN COUNTRY for keeping us informed. These empty souls know they'd better not put on blackface, but they act as if Indians are professional victims, so it's okay to target them. This was brought out a decade ago, when Bill Maher had his POLITICALLY INCORRECT show. He had a few black celebs on his show, and they made fun of Indians. They laughed and mentioned that it's okay, because there are too few Indians to cause any backlash. I strongly hold the view that ethnics who degrade other ethnics are the more accountable before Almighty God, because ethnics should know what other ethnics are going through in this racist world. This doesn't mean that whites are exempt from accountability. They are, after all, those racist groups like the KLU KLUX KLAN. And Hitler wasn't the spawn of colored people. What gets me sometimes, is that our creative community doesn't address this in their creative output. This golden opportunity is there in big, bold print for them, and they are blind to it.

hopihopi's picture
Submitted by hopihopi on
If you come down to our reservations, you will find that most 4/4 Indians don't think such costumes are racist. ICTMN's playing costume cop is counter-productive because it alienates the rest of America against Indians. When people put on costumes of Blacks, they show huge pouty lips with silly pink paint and exaggerate other stereotypical "negroid features" like Afro hair of the 70's. That is why those costumes are offensive. Look at the above picture again - there is nothing racist about the costume of Paris Hilton's boyfriend. If someone dresses up as a nun, that is not offensive but it becomes offensive if they dress up as a nun with big breasts or show a nun abusing children. Indians who are mistaken for whites find Halloween costumes offensive because they remind people that Indians need to look a certain way and these Indians look Caucasian. We full-bloods are never offended because we do look like the stereotypical Indians.