Kardashians Are the Queens of Playing NDN

Ruth Hopkins

In the past week, Kourtney, the oldest sister of the infamous Kardashian clan, has doubled down on racism against Natives. She posted an Icelandic belfie (butt selfie) with the caption ‘Eski-Ho’ to Instagram and tweeted yet another picture of herself in a skin tight tan suede dress with a slit up the middle. The caption for the latter read, ‘POCAHONTAS VIBES.’

Now I’m a busy little bee so I don’t have time to comment on every single incidence of Native appropriation, no matter how infuriating. Native appropriation is so trendy lately that if I were to spotlight every instance I would be doing it every day like it’s my full time job. Nonetheless, just because I don’t fire off shots doesn’t mean I didn’t see it, and I’ve had quite enough of Kourtney and her sisters’ racist shenanigans.

In these two posts, Kourtney reinforced manifest destiny, racism, misogyny, rape culture, Native appropriation and the fetishizing of Native women. One in three Native women are raped during their lifetime. Associating Inuit (‘Eskimo’) women with the offensive term ‘ho’ (short for whore) is beyond insulting. It’s irresponsible and it’s not funny.

The topic of Pocahontas is a sensitive one for me too. It should be for all of us. Newsflash America: Pocahontas was not just a Disney Princess. She was a real, live Indigenous girl killed by colonization, along with her father, Chief Powhatan, and most of her People.

Pocahontas was a nickname (meaning The Naughty One). Her real name was Matoaka. If we believe John Smith’s account of events, she would have been 10 or 11 when she met him. That’s hardly a romantic scenario, unless you’re a pedophile. Pocahontas was kidnapped by the English. She was imprisoned at the Jamestown colony for over a year, where she was assaulted. While still a teenager, our young heroine married John Rolfe. Marrying the Englishman was a condition of her release. Pocahontas was then taken to England, as a sort of living specimen and advertisement for colonization. She died at the tender age of 21, unaware that the English would create the Pocahontas Myth; one where she was the good Indian who rescued the whiteman from her brutish, savage Tribesmen. This myth birthed many colonial stereotypes of Native people and was used as justification to make war against us.

Enter the year 2016, where Hollywood and Halloween costumes have compounded the colonial myth of who Pocahontas was by epic, salacious proportions. Instead of telling us the story of Matoaka, a brave, young, innocent girl held captive by European invaders, we see a commercial fabrication of a seductive, sexually available Pocahottie, the ultimate love slave wearing strategically placed strips of imitation leather and her daddy’s headdress, who is meant to gratify your every desire. Here’s hoping Kourtney didn’t realize the vibes she sent out were actually pretty rapey. Child abduction isn’t sexy, girlfriend.

What really irks me about the Kardashians is that they are unapologetic, serial cultural appropriators. While folks speculate on their intelligence, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re acutely aware of the fact that appropriating Native culture is offensive. For this reason I can only surmise that they’re doing it on purpose and therefore, cannot plead ignorance. Why would they continue to openly mock and appropriate Native culture? Simple. They need attention to survive, even if it’s negative.

Kourtney’s dipped her toe into the Native appropriation pool before. In recent months, she was seen sitting in a miniature tipi on Instagram, and strutting down the street in a tee with ‘NATIVE’ scrawled across the front. But wait a minute. The worst offender of the Kardashian clan is Kourtney’s younger sister, Khloe.

Oh, how I’d love to sponge away the memory of a naked raccoon-eyed Khloe emerging from chlorine waters in nothing but a gaudy fake warbonnet. She wouldn’t put that damn thing away either. Since then she’s posted other pics of herself wearing it. In one she’s sitting ‘Indian style’ next to a miniature tipi. Gross. Last week, Miss Thang posted a pic of herself in French braids with the caption’ NATIVE.’ Khloe wants to be Native so bad. It’s a problem. Put the Cher headdress down and walk away, slowly…

Thankfully Kim has yet to wear redface, but her hubbington Kanye exposed the American public to some pretty heinous artwork by Wes Lang a few concert tours back. He glorified Indigenous genocide with skulls in headdresses and plastered the confederate flag everywhere.

One would think that the Kardashians would empathize with Native people because they are Armenians. Their ancestors fled genocide.

Can a Native go at least one day without being subjected to the public humiliation of our ancestors, corny inaccurate caricatures of who we are, and the desecration of our sacred objects? How about not encouraging people to rape us? Please? We’re still here. Don’t erase us with your lies.

Someone stop the Kardashians before they Pocahottie again. You can’t fake Original.

Ruth Hopkins (Sisseton Wahpeton & Mdewakanton Dakota, Hunkpapa Lakota) is a writer, blogger, biologist, activist and judge.

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Michael Madrid's picture
The Kard-ass-ians picked up where Paris Hilton left off. What are they famous for? Why are they here? What have they contributed to society? Why do we need them? There are too many people in this world who exist solely to take money and piss off others. When will their 15 minutes of fame be over?
Michael Madrid