Kanye West's Tour T-Shirts Feature Indian Skull, Confederate Flag


Hip hop star Kanye West has begun his Yeezus tour, and photos of the merchandise being offered to concertgoers have inspired outrage and befuddlement.

As revealed at Complex.com, the goods include t-shirts emblazoned with a skeleton wearing a feather headdress or "war bonnet" associated with Plains Indian tribes. Other provocative imagery includes the Confederate flag. 

The art is by Wes Lang, whose work is informed by the Grateful Dead and tattoo culture, and uses skeletons and skulls in various forms, including wearing Indian regalia -- visit his blog to see numerous examples.

At Complex.com, some commenters are voicing their disapproval of the Native/skull image -- here's what reader Schon Duncan says:

Fuck that racist Indian shit. As a Native American, seeing a skeleton with a headdress on is just plain disrespectful and it reinforces the idea that Natives are a thing of the past. Fuck that. We're still here and don't need this from someone who claims to understand the struggle of oppression.

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Kavika's picture
Submitted by Kavika on
Why doesn't West have a T-shirt with a slave in irons. Seems that he doesn't understand, what he says he understands. It's an insult, pure and simple.

megisi's picture
Submitted by megisi on
Dear Dr. Syphilis, Can you at least make the attempt to drag your ravaged ass into the 21st century? Or have you been too busy peddling your junk to notice there's been a little discussion lately about Indian imagery?

Tara's picture
Submitted by Tara on
I find this disgusting & offensive. He has no principles! It's all about the money and I'm not surprised considering the source.

Liz Mulligan's picture
Liz Mulligan
Submitted by Liz Mulligan on
I agree that the shirt is in bad taste, however, using inflammatory language to argue this point does not help, IMHO.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
WOOOOOOOOOOOW! Way to boost your career on the backs of others Kanye! Way to go all "Miley" with it ..... meaning: using controversy to outshine your so called "talent" .... here's the thing though Miley actually has talent ...... Kanye you have a computer program that gives you the illusion of having "talent" .......Sad Kanye, very sad. Whats next you gonna say in a press conference that your Great great grandmamma was an "Indian Princess" and THAT is what gives you the right to put a skull wearing a headdress on your stupid tour t-shirts?!! Ridiculousness.

natalie sunflower's picture
natalie sunflower
Submitted by natalie sunflower on
Non- Natives need to be more respectful, any thing else is just ignorance and we have too much of that in this country. the most dangerous thing in the world is sincere ignorance and conscious stupidity. Equal to what is on those tee shirts would be a Black person with a lynch around his neck and the confederate flag. It is and always will be in "BAD TASTE" and completely disrespectful!!

DJ's picture
Submitted by DJ on
This just confirms what I've always noticed about Kanye West, he's a brainless prop of the music industry.

Charlene Sleeper's picture
Charlene Sleeper
Submitted by Charlene Sleeper on
As an enrolled member of the Cheyenne Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, I approve of the skull and headdress graphic. For one, the freedom of expression is protected by the constitution. For two, I like the way it looks. For three, Wes Lang is an amazing artist. This whole Indian imagery sensitivity is getting a bit out of hand. I mean, I agree the Redskins should change their name because it is a racial slur but how a person interprets a skull and head dress graphic is simply their own perception. Hopefully, we don't go blowing this out of proportion because it's only going to make our people look bad. We'll just end up with a lot of ticked off artists, and turn our whole agenda into a joke.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
I like it! and we are the past and the future soo headdresses are earned lets be united instead of always dividing eachother we as people of color are always pointing the finga at eachother soo I like the kanye shirt I will rock it and be proud wen i wear it....why cuz my ancestor were proud people you gotta make the shirt dont let the shirt make you....know where u come from or you will never make it where your goin.....

steve sacharoff's picture
steve sacharoff
Submitted by steve sacharoff on
I am constantly amazed by this kind of .. this kind of imbecilic insanity...but I guess I should no longer be..

Paul Williams's picture
Paul Williams
Submitted by Paul Williams on
Kanye is a complete IDIOT, His Ignorance is Amazing! I wouldn't Piss on him if he was on Fire.

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
can someone please explain to me just exactly what a skeleton in a headdress has to do with GOD???? I have always wondered just exactly why people of OTHER races/cultures have always been so terminally fascinated with using us, apparently both dead and alive, as symbols of their silliness....do they somehow think they are 'honoring' us in some way....however, I have learned a new FACT....apparently all of our native 'intellectual properties' are up for grabs by white folks, to include songs, beliefs, languages, traditions, clothing, tipis, etc...etc...for the simple reason they are not COPYRIGHTED, and, white people's innate, convinced belief that they are somehow 'preserving' the same for perpetuity because we natives apparently do NOT have the wherewithal/brains/common sense to do it ourselves....

DJ Lexx's picture
DJ Lexx
Submitted by DJ Lexx on
Yeah Kanye West stole the word Yeezus from me. I used to make fun of the word Jesus by making a scandanavian version cuz Im from Minnesota. Like Yah Yeezus Mary and Yoseph. Kinda how spanish say Jesus. He hatin on me like a muthafucka. That and he stole my fuckin word.

tooley box's picture
tooley box
Submitted by tooley box on
i never thought one way or the other about k,west .but the more I hear what he says and what he does makes me join the many that think he is an ignorant person.

Curt Nix's picture
Curt Nix
Submitted by Curt Nix on
It is all blaspheme that needs to be done. K.W. knows exactly what hes doing. I would ignore it if I were anyone, too bad hes got alot of fans. God isnt laughing or "entertained".

Lauren Unruh's picture
Lauren Unruh
Submitted by Lauren Unruh on
I disagree. I do not know anything about Kanye West or the intent of the comment on the shirt, or his music, but the image to me is very inclusive. It acknowledges that there are Deadhead Indians. We do exist. I really like the image. I am considering buying the T shirt as I think it visually represents MY Tribe. It seems to me that although there are a lot of us, we are mostly very much ignored as a group and are very, very scattered. I think it would be good to have an image like that to recognize each other with and gather around. I do not think it is disrespectful at all. So who is Kanye West? Is he going to be an embarrassment? And what on earth is he saying or attempting to say? Don't expect me to listen to his music to figure it out, not unless it is actually good. You know, like the Dead. Also, I hardly ever comment, but I read ICT daily. I want to extend my sincere thanks to all the staff and writers here who make it such a great paper! You all deserve a big Thank You. I think you are terrific.

JC's picture
Submitted by JC on
This is so disrespectful to so many people. I recommend boycotting Mr. West's tour, music and merchandise.

Tlingit's picture
Submitted by Tlingit on
Are dead our honored with a burial, placing a skull in full regalia is such a huge slap in the face to all Native Americans, living or in after life. How disrespectful of Kanye West to do this defacing of are sacred bones.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I'll have to agree with Obama who outright said, "Oh he's a jackass," about Kanye West. I would like to hear West's explaination for the use of BOTH controversial graphics. He's not Native American AND why is an African-American using a Confederate flag? This is stupid on so many different levels, but then again the depth of Kanye West's stupidity isn't to be underestimated.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I'll have to agree with Obama who outright said, "Oh he's a jackass," about Kanye West. I would like to hear West's explaination for the use of BOTH controversial graphics. He's not Native American AND why is an African-American using a Confederate flag? This is stupid on so many different levels, but then again the depth of Kanye West's stupidity isn't to be underestimated.

Native In Phoenix AZ's picture
Native In Phoenix AZ
Submitted by Native In Phoenix AZ on
Its no better than Schon, using profanity to show how intelligent he is and how low Indian Country Today will stoop. I see this design being sold by Indians and more at local pow wows and such. In items ranging from rings to clothing. This whole mascot image thing is way out of hand and all the crying from Indians and cussing won't do anything, until the Indians themselves top mascoting themselves. How many times have you seen a mascot symbol on the rez? yeah, thought so, lots. Get and education and stop worrying about this lame stuff, move forward.

Bernice Riggers's picture
Bernice Riggers
Submitted by Bernice Riggers on
Kanye West has completely lost his mind and so has Wes Lang. I am Native American and I think this is just so direspectful. If Kanye and Wes don't like the comment they can go to HELL. Now go runtelldat.

La Rubia's picture
La Rubia
Submitted by La Rubia on
You all know that he knows damn good and well what he's doing. Do you think he didn't know that Snoop-Dog is getting complaints too? This is blatant trash, what a jerk

Mark's picture
Submitted by Mark on
No class.How would he feel if the t shirt had an African American Wearing a KKK Hood,And the Confederate Flag.

elizabeh inhoof's picture
elizabeh inhoof
Submitted by elizabeh inhoof on
You know it just shocks me And saddens me that the American Indian has basically just been snuffed out .... If you want respect about all your sacred days and beliefs well then show some respect for ours. You live on and defend the land you stole from us and you also tried to destroy us...It makes no sense... There is no national holiday for us. Its like we never existed. But everyone in this country sure has no problem living off of our spoils... If you have any respect for anything sacred oh oppressed man... change the shirt...

bryan's picture
Submitted by bryan on
just another self serving not in tune with reality so called artist , no clue what life is like on the reservation and our traditions



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