Club Sun Color Studios, largely based in Florida and Alabama, printed this advertisement last year. The company has apologized for any offense that was caused and took down the ad.

5 Reasons Autumn is Brutal on Native Americans

Simon Moya-Smith

Autumn is alluring. The leaves change and tumble to the earth; the insufferable heat of summer gives way to biting winds and long nights of cocoa and the comforts of a warm hearth. But it’s also a brutal time. It’s a time when Native Americans are lambasted with the ignorance and arrogance of sports fanatics; when wiggy college students dress up in 'Pocahottie' costumes; and when parades to a thieving murderer step off across the country. That said, here are five reasons why pop culture in the fall, and then winter, is rough on Native Americans:

NFL Season

Ah, yes. This is the time of year when fans of the Washington football team and the Kansas City Chiefs, specifically, don faux Native American headdresses, chant god-awful nonsense in the stands, and even paint their faces red, all whilst quaffing beer and sucking down day-old dogs.

For decades, Native Americans have rallied against this ignorance and arrogance; for a time, our collective voice fell on deaf ears. But, now, the momentum builds. People everywhere are beginning to recognize the inherent discrimination in such harmful behavior. Yep, autumn – the launch of the NFL season – is a test of Native American patience, eloquence and fortitude.

Columbus Day

He murdered. He maimed. Yet Columbus Day is still a federally recognized holiday. Many have argued the day is a celebration of Italian American heritage, to which Native Americans respond: We are not opposed to Italian American pride. We are opposed to a federal holiday named for a murdering thief.

Jon Oliver, the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight recently addressed the ridiculousness of this holiday in his segment, “How Is This Still a Thing?”

How is this still a thing? Knowing all that we do about whom Columbus was, what he did and the consequences of his invasion, why are Native Americans and our allies still subject to such blind sloganeering? Let’s hope more cities and then the country will follow the example of Seattle.


And then there are the “Pocahottie” costumes, which are the hypersexualization of Native American women. It’s important, here, to comprehend why we rage against such diminutive forms of cultural misappropriation.

In the U.S., Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than women of any other racial minority. And then people have the audacity to say we’re being too politically correct for not allowing them to “just have a good time.” Ridiculous. Also, men who wear faux feather headdresses at sporting events pull the ghastly thing out of the closet for a cheap and quick alternative to buying a decent costume – emphasis on ‘decent’ here. If you’re going to be cheap just get a bedsheet and play Caesar! But, please tell your friends to stop dressing up as Native Americans (even if they think they have some Native American blood in them).


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bennysplace's picture
Submitted by bennysplace on
Thank you for this article and for discussing the the things many tend to conveniently overlook. I discovered this site when searching for Native Americans and the Autumn Equinox. It saddens me that in this day and age we can be so blind to our ignorance and nonchalant attitude toward the indignity of the native peoples of this country. I pray that as days go by we embrace kindness, compassion and lift up the native peoples as opposed to marginalizing them even further. Thank you again.