source: instagram

Nicole Richie Stirs Controversy with Feather Headdress -- Again

ICTMN Staff
6/11/13

Nicole Richie, star of The Simple Life and fashion designer for her own House of Harlow line, sent out an Instagram photo that has struck many Natives as disrespectful. In the picture, she and a friend, standing in front of a tepee, wear feather headdresses. The caption reads "Another Saturday Night."

Comments on Richie's Instagram page seemed mostly approving of the outfit, with some decrying it as racially insensitive.

One news outlet that picked up the story was the U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail -- Native readers in the United States might find the attitudes expressed by British readers to be interesting:

PinkPeony, London: "Does this mean my daughter can't dress up in her Pocahontas costume for fear of offending people?"

me, Reading: "Fancy dress shops sell 'cowboy and Indian' costumes - are we going to have to stop buying and wearing these now?"

icydanger, Switzerland: "Does that mean we cannot dress up children in indians anymore?"

ThePsychologyStudent, Essex: "So all the boys and girls who used to play cowboys and indians when they were little are now also offensive? I think not..."

In addition to this common thread, there were the usual complaints of "political correctness gone mad" and false equivalencies (one commenter imagined a world where "you can't paint yourself blue [because] it's an unfair representation of smurfs"). But Leanne in London offered a more thoughtful viewpoint:

"while I agree that I can't quite see why the Native American community find it so insulting, they have made it very clear that they do find it insulting. and since it is their history and rituals that are being appropriated they do actually get the final say. ignoring their very clear requests is an insult all by itself. (also comparing a very real community to very fictional smurfs and super heroes? i'm thinking the Native Americans might have a point about not using their historical identy as fancy dress cause people are clearly getting confused)"

As the Daily Mail and Huffington Post pointed out, Nicole Richie has courted controversy like this in the past, posting a picture of herself wearing a large feather headdress on her site in 2010:

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mark lange's picture
mark lange
Submitted by mark lange on
This regalia is not worn by woman it is a sacred item earned over many years of hard work by an honored warrior amongst many tribes through Canada and the States . When I see some one blatantly disrespecting my own and many others cultures through a sense of self entitlement and ignorance I feel the need to say some thing Please don't do this again .

Richard  oakley's picture
Richard oakley
Submitted by Richard oakley on
would expect nothing less from a bunch of pilgrims yet if a native woman presented herself as the queen of england as a hooker those same limeys would find that offensive

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Im Paiute and Tllingit from this country. I find this to be completely offensive towards my ancestry. My ancestors died fighting for their livelihood and culture. Nichole has no idea the meaning behind the headdress she is wearing. Ignorance breeds negative stereotypes of all cultures. When I see this it makes me feel like something sacred of my people is turned into a mockery.

paiute's picture
paiute
Submitted by paiute on
Im Paiute and Tllingit from this country. I find this to be completely offensive towards my ancestry. My ancestors died fighting for their livelihood and culture. Nichole has no idea the meaning behind the headdress she is wearing. Ignorance breeds negative stereotypes of all cultures. When I see this it makes me feel like something sacred of my people is turned into a mockery.

Desmond Knight's picture
Desmond Knight
Submitted by Desmond Knight on
and she calls herself a fashion designer? know your medium little girl! any real designer would study and know the culture they're trying to represent... instead of looking like a ignorant racist... learn for next time, oh wait this was next time... clueless...

Marilyn Wounded Head's picture
Marilyn Wounded Head
Submitted by Marilyn Wounded Head on
A "real fashion designer" would rely on their designs. This proves she's a pseudo fashion designer. If she can't design go back to kissing Paris Hiltons butt.

Marilyn Wounded Head's picture
Marilyn Wounded Head
Submitted by Marilyn Wounded Head on
A "real fashion designer" would rely on their designs. This proves she's a pseudo fashion designer. If she can't design go back to kissing Paris Hiltons butt.

Carla Haller's picture
Carla Haller
Submitted by Carla Haller on
She's a fool; no one has the right to undermine an entire culture, and yes, the American Indians have the final say on the issue!!

Dale Isom's picture
Dale Isom
Submitted by Dale Isom on
Native Americans are tired of everyone not understanding that dressing up with a head dress/bonnet is a real insult because they were only worn by chiefs or men of honor Warriors earned the right to wear them--they are still sacred. If you sent your child out dressed up in black face-people would call you a racist and tell you you are insulting the black population--so why cant you understand that dressing as Pocahontas whether it be a child or an adult can be irritating? You are making fun of a race of people who have been forced to live in their own country basically as prisoners of war-forced to live in segregated communities, for many years and then forcing many to live in "white" society to see if you can assimilate them and take away their lands all together and it still hasnt worked--ergo Idle No More--get a clue and show some respect-if you want to wear a headdress go copy the ostrich feathers or peacock feather head gear worn by many Las Vegas dancers

So What's picture
So What
Submitted by So What on
Another ignorant and disrespectful person in America is all it proves.

Cindi's picture
Cindi
Submitted by Cindi on
Well I Guess If You Were An Indian You May See Things A little Different Than What You Do.That Feathered Headdress Means Something Totally Different To Us Indians Than just Something To Throw Around Or On Just Any ones Head Like Hers for A Joke.It's Very Precious & Something That Doesn't Need To Be Made A joke Of.But You Idiots Wouldn't No Nothing About Any Indian Piece.Let Alone A Feather Headdress Piece.It Would Be Like A Huge Diamond to You& What You Think About It& What It's Worth.The Headdress Means A lot More Than Any Of You Could Ever No.So Yes I'm So Glad We Do Have A Say In What Ever You Think About Our Heritage & What Comes Along With Us,Like Our Feather Headdress Piece.Yes It's Beautiful& It's Not To Be Made Fun Of That's For Sure.I Would Love To See Her Stupid Self Try& Make One Of Them.She May See Things Different,Than A Big Joke!!!

b. smith's picture
b. smith
Submitted by b. smith on
stop!! this respectful attack on our Native American people!! Please America wake up before it's to late!!

Joanne 's picture
Joanne
Submitted by Joanne on
My culture is definitely not a costume.........enough said. I don't dress up or pose in pictures of other cultural or religious identities.

Lenore's picture
Lenore
Submitted by Lenore on
Sometimes I think it is ok to borrow from other peoples cultures because I like them, not because I am making fun of them or want to hurt them. :(

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
why its make belief its not like its the original one of rain in the face that wound up in japan thanks to dennis means which every feather represented a battle and kill... loooks good turkey feathers and in her world she is a chieftan as I am.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
why its make belief its not like its the original one of rain in the face that wound up in japan thanks to dennis means which every feather represented a battle and kill... loooks good turkey feathers and in her world she is a chieftan as I am.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
why its make belief its not like its the original one of rain in the face that wound up in japan thanks to dennis means which every feather represented a battle and kill... loooks good turkey feathers and in her world she is a chieftan as I am.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
why its make belief its not like its the original one of rain in the face that wound up in japan thanks to dennis means which every feather represented a battle and kill... loooks good turkey feathers and in her world she is a chieftan as I am.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
why its make belief its not like its the original one of rain in the face that wound up in japan thanks to dennis means which every feather represented a battle and kill... loooks good turkey feathers and in her world she is a chieftan as I am.

Mary Williamson's picture
Mary Williamson
Submitted by Mary Williamson on
When will people wake up and realize that it's not okay to disrespect all of our relations and that each tribe or cultural/ethnic group has the right to determine what is inappropriate or disrespectful. Aboriginal tribes throughout the world have experienced near extinction and are only beginning to establish their identities and further strengthen their cultures. It's not okay for more dominant (and dominating) cultures/ethnic groups to appropriate aspects of cultures that have faced severe oppression and continue to face significant struggles toward self actualization and equality. I played "Cowboys and Indians as a kid: this doesn't make me racist, (per se) it just means that my friends and I (children between the ages of 5-10 years of age) were ignorant. It's okay not to know about something and to seek education and enlightenment. It's not okay to continue to behave disrespectfully once you've been carefully and politely informed. Grow up people.

Mary Williamson's picture
Mary Williamson
Submitted by Mary Williamson on
When will people wake up and realize that it's not okay to disrespect all of our relations and that each tribe or cultural/ethnic group has the right to determine what is inappropriate or disrespectful. Aboriginal tribes throughout the world have experienced near extinction and are only beginning to establish their identities and further strengthen their cultures. It's not okay for more dominant (and dominating) cultures/ethnic groups to appropriate aspects of cultures that have faced severe oppression and continue to face significant struggles toward self actualization and equality. I played "Cowboys and Indians" as a kid: this doesn't make me racist, (per se) it just means that my friends and I (children between the ages of 5-10 years of age) were ignorant. It's okay not to know about something and to seek education and enlightenment. It's not okay to continue to behave disrespectfully once you've been carefully and politely informed. Grow up people.

Randl Pruett's picture
Randl Pruett
Submitted by Randl Pruett on
Personally I don't care if they are wearing chicken feathers on their heads, it means absolutely nothing, and makes them look like fools.

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