via The Star
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a headdress the night of his election.

Why Headdress Is Not a Halloween Costume: Yahoo! Style Canada Nails It


Yahoo! Style Canada has taken note of the cultural appropriation problem inherent in wearing a headdress at Halloween, or any time, unless you have earned it.

Reporter Amber Nasrulla interviewed academics and First Nations leaders, among others, to lay out for the mainstream exactly what is wrong with swathing one’s head in feathers in a “tribute” to indigenous cultures.

“If you’re not from the community and if you aren’t part of those protocols and you’re whipping this [headdress] out to look colorful or quaint or rebellious, you’re actually exercising a particular kind of settler privilege that is, at its heart, violent. And deeply disrespectful,” said Daniel Justice, head of the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, to Yahoo! Style Canada.

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It can appear especially mocking given that indigenous headdresses, regalia, ceremonies and practices were banned by European settlers, the story points out. Nasrulla also gets into technicalities, such as the detail that large feathered war bonnet headdresses are from the prairie cultures, and are made specifically to reflect the character and various qualities of the wearer.

“It’s really regional, it’s not representative of indigenous people throughout the Americas at all,” Justice, an enrolled Cherokee, told Yahoo! Style. “I don’t think we can say anything is representative because we have thousands of communities and hundreds of distinct cultures.”

Moreover, these headdresses are often handed down through generations, the story points out.

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“It’s a tremendous honor, one of the highest, and it’s not something that is taken lightly,” said Chief Sara Mainville of the Couchiching First Nation to Yahoo! Style Canada.

Read the full takedown, The True Significance of the Headdress—and Why It Should Never Be a Halloween Costume, on Yahoo! Style Canada.

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Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
For the normal Joe, wearing a headdress is wrong for the same reasons that wearing military medals when you've never served a day in the military is wrong.