A Tribe Called Red Asks Fans to 'Please Stop' Wearing Redface

ICTMN Staff
7/13/13

Memo to headdress-wearing, face-painted non-Natives attending a Tribe Called Red concert: "Please stop. It's disrespectful and we really don't appreciate it."

Those are the words of Deejay NDN, one of the members of the hugely popular electronic dance music act A Tribe Called Red. The Canadian aboriginal trio (the other two members are DJ Shub and Bear Witness) has mixed Native music with electronic beats and created a new sound that resonates strongly with Native American and First Nations audiences. It's also music that everyone can enjoy, as demonstrated by the multicultural crowds at their shows, but there's a slight problem: While on the cutting edge of music, some concertgoers aren't hip to the cultural do's and don't's when it comes to Native peoples.

White kids wearing hipster headdresses and facepaint are common at Coachella and other music festivals, and many Natives are irked by the fashion-izing of sacred elements of their culture. But when the act on stage is aboriginal, it's a new kind of annoying. In a wide-ranging interview with the Huffington Post, Deejay NDN breaks down why he'd like the behavior to stop:

It's creating a false idea of what it means to be Indigenous today. It's "Pan-Indianism". It's robbing the First Nations of their nationhoods and nationality. It's making us all "Indian" instead of recognizing me as an Anishnabe or Ojibway. I'm NOT an "Indian". I'm of the Anishnabe Nation. Also, it gives the impression that Natives are something from the past. Not here today. If you were to think of an "Indian" you certainly aren't going to think of me, tattooed in a hoodie with a Sens cap on. We, as First Nation people, have never had control of our image in colonial media since its birth.  

In the course of the conversation, the interviewer tries to nail down how an artist named NDN from a group named A Tribe Called Red, which shows videos that mash-up stereotypical imagery from the past, can preach to others about what they can wear or say. NDN puts a fine point on it: 

"It's not cultural appropriation if it's your own culture, right?"

Read the full interview at Huffington Post Canada.

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