Tipi, Models in Skimpy Faux Native Garb at California Gaming Conference
An American-born businessman who owns and operates an advertising company in Germany has responded to complaints of cultural appropriation by stating he has Native American friends and that his company incorporates Native American values in its philosophy.
Gary Lin, CEO of Glispa (GmbH), a company geared to generate web traffic through marketing campaigns, allegedly erected a tipi and hired several women to dress in faux Native American garb at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, on March 19.
Elizabeth LaPensée, an Anishinaabe and Métis game developer and designer, said friends had told her a tipi would be on the expo floor. When she arrived to the conference she noticed that Glispa staff were using the tipi as a meeting room. “And two women, both of whom were non-Native, were wearing your typical inappropriate stereotypical [Indian] costume – mocking regalia,” she said.
According to LaPensée, people who had arrived to the conference before she did told her that the models were wearing less attire earlier in the day, but had since put on more clothing.
LaPensée asked the models to pose and snapped a photo. She immediately posted the image of the tipi and the models to her Facebook wall. Her friend, Melissa Bennett, a Umatilla, Nez Perce, Diné and Lakota writer, emailed the company, opposing the appropriation, and received a direct response from Lin.
In his defiant email, which can be read at length on Bennett’s website, Lin, who wrote that he is Chinese-American, declared he understands “the sensitivities around race and culture fully” and that since he founded the company more than a decade ago, Bennett’s complaint is the first he has received concerning his co-opting of Native American cultures.
Lin goes on to declare that he has a bevy of Native American friends, seeing that he was born in the Midwest.
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