Screen capture - IndianHeaddress.com
Wednesday morning on Twitter saw the trending of the hashtag #HipsterSchoolSuppliesList, to which I immediately thought: Native cultural appropriation. Today young people are wearing headdresses on any occasion they might see as befitting them.

Ask N NDN: ‘Hipster School Supplies List’ Trends: Appropriation Comes to Mind

Vincent Schilling
8/3/16

Wednesday morning on Twitter saw the trending of the hashtag #HipsterSchoolSuppliesList, to which I immediately thought: Native cultural appropriation. Today young people are wearing headdresses on any occasion they might see as befitting them.

So as #HipsterSchoolSupplies trends on Twitter - I have to admit if I saw kids wearing headdresses to their schools as part of their scholarly annual supplies cache .. I sadly would not be surprised.

I have long known about a company in Bali called IndianHeaddress.com, aka Novum Crafts, that sells Indian headdresses -- and Native cultural appropriation -- for cheap.

This company also spends a considerable amount of webspace making an argument defending this appropriation.

One of their webpages is entitled 'So, can I wear a Native American headdress?’ It makes the following argument on the same page they call a chief's regalia a costume:

Native American symbols and mascots (as attributed to the north Americans) have long been part of, or "accepted" in the cultures of many countries. In the US, especially, sports teams are named after Indian tribes, or have mascots such as tomahawks or war bonnets. For example, there are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins … or how about the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Blackhawks?

The Kansas City Chiefs play in the "Arrowhead" Stadium. The logo of the Washington Redskins represents the silhouette profile of a native American Indian—complete with a couple of eagle feathers. The Atlanta Braves have a tomahawk as a mascot, and the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Hockey team also has the profile of a smiling native American with feathers in theirs.

The argument is made for anyone seeking to profit off of copying Native culture and even calls out Native people for daring to criticize the efforts of a company in Bali who only hires the best artisans to ‘honor Native culture.”

Quizzically, they continue with an argument that Native Americans who might feel disrespected are patriotic?

Some (patriotic native Americans) claim that wearing the symbols of these proud people is disrespectful to their culture and heritage. The headdress was earned through brave deeds and wearing it seems to be wrong.They end their argument on a note that is all too familiar.

Wearing a chief headdress can be a celebration of the glorious past—if the intention to wear one is not in "mockery" or "stereotyping." It can bring the wearer closer to nature and bring a kind of other-worldly peace.

Never too young for cultural appropriation - I don't blame the kids, but yikes.  (Screen capture IndianHeaddress.com)

Okay - I have to stop there. The page is filled with insulting images of appropriation which this company obviously feels is an argument to their cause. A baby, an underwear model, a woman sitting on a rock and another staring into the sky.

This is my viewpoint on Native headdresses.

Don’t do it. Period. Unless you are in a placed in a position of honor and asked by your Native tribe to do so.

Native headdresses are sacred. Many times these headdresses have been handed down from several generations or if they are made, the person of honor is in the mind of the creator of the headdress with specific beading, and more in reverence to their family, their ancestors and those that will follow in their paths.

Not one part of a headdress is created in a casual manner, every single bit of ornamentation has a sacred meaning and every feather is honored and respected.

People say they are honoring Native culture when they wear a headdress. The opposite is true. If you sincerely wish to honor Native culture, do not wear a headdress.

You are honoring Native culture if you remove it.

 

Vincent Schilling  (Akwesasne Mohawk) is honored to contribute to ASK N NDN. He is ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor - Follow him on Twitter - @VinceSchilling

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