I am Not a Costume – Native American Halloween Costumes

I am Not a Costume – Native American Halloween Costumes

Posted By Paul G October 17th, 2013 Blog

Last Updated on

Halloween is here again!

Time for everyone to start picking out their costumes.

Many children and adults across the country wear culturally based costumes such as Pocahontas, terrorist, and more.

This controversial topic has been discussed many times in the past.

But each year the costumes still remain.

In 2011 students at Ohio University started a campaign – “We're a Culture, Not a Costume“.

They produced a series of posters to help raise awareness of this issue.

I am Not a Costume

Noel Altaha created the video below as part of a class project.

Read more from Noel at Last Real Indians.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Are you offended by Native American Halloween costumes?


Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » I am Not a Costume – Native American Halloween Costumes

TAGGED:    costumes    halloween  


58 thoughts on “I am Not a Costume – Native American Halloween Costumes

  1. Virtue signaling at best. Get over yourselves. Native, Mexican, Irish, Black, English, Asian are all american cultures. It’s a melting pot, that is what makes it great. None of you are full blooded anything so stop acting like it. If my wife wants to dress up as a sexy native women and you take offence to that then you can get fucked. I don’t care about your feelings, everybody doesn’t get a trophy.

  2. I agree with the toga party comment. It’s not that you’re dressing up as a Native American, you’re dressing up in the fairy tale style of an ‘Indian’. The whole ‘Cowboys & Indians’ thing is a complete stereotype and exaggerated. It’s okay to dress up like a cowboy in huge boots and a hat and no one from the south is going to get mad at you. But to wear a fantasy native American costume? Oh no. Heaven forbid. By wearing neon feathers and a sexy dress or whatever, you aren’t saying, ‘Hey Look All Native Americans Totally Dress Like This And Look Like This And Are Basically Just This’. No. You’re saying, ‘Hey Look I Put Fun Paint On My Face And Feathers In My Hair Because I Think The Exaggerated Movie Character Persona Of This Lifestyle/People Is Pretty Rad.’ I totally get how it could be construed wrongly, but then no one gets any fun anymore. No more nurse costumes, because hey, that’s offensive. We’re saving lives and you’re hiking up your skirt. Woah, no mariachi band costumes, even though that’s a profession not a race we’re still gonna take offense. HEY what do you think you’re doing in a toga??? The whole point of Halloween is to dress up as something you’re not. No one is making any political statements against Native Americans by going in one of these costumes. Maybe they just think the costume is cool looking and pretty and they aren’t Native American so they’ll never get a chance to wear it so they will just this one night. You know those ‘Sexy Nun’ costumes? Everyone knows real nuns don’t dress like that at all. But no one goes crazy over it because it’s just a costume. It’s just for fun. People dress up as psycho versions of anything you can imagine all the time. ‘Fill In The Blank Gone Wrong’ or ‘Sexy Your Choice Here’ and it’s fine. Why? Because everyone knows that nurses are awesome and respectable people that we need everyday but it’s still a cute Halloween idea. People know that Native Americans are awesome and respectable and of so much value and we wish we could be that cool so we dress up like them. It’s not to make your culture seem irrelevant or arbitrary, we just like your style. Let me rephrase that: We like the style that you’ve been made up to be. I hope no one would ever dress up in actual sacred items, excuse me for not knowing exactly what all that entail. I can see where that would be bad. But you can dress up like a victorian lady or a stripper or a politician or an actress or anything, and people will jab at you. I think everything is fair game for Halloween. It’s a night of saturated, amplified, nonsense that no one takes seriously

  3. louis Schmidt says:

    I grew up playing with my half Oneida cousins. I also collect vintage Halloween. Halloween was a wonderful event at my house. And, yes, my cousins went trick or treating with me. Recently I won an ebay Halloween auction that includes two, very beautiful, Native American masks. These masks are meant to be added to my collection, not worn. But, two of my half Native American friends immediately assumed I was being disrespectful and accused me of insensitivity. Anybody who knows me knows I am a collector. There was no exaggeration on the masks. They were works of art. But, still my friends (who I thought knew me) tried to make an issue out of it. SO, you see, it’s a tricky subject, sexy indian, or sexy anything (if you ask me) for Halloween is not tasteful. But, I do own some ugly witch masks and last year I was the official gypsy storyteller. I did not dress in garish garb but beautiful clothes that recalled nature. Still, I’m sure someone out there would have labeled me racist. My point is, what is the intention and the look of the actual costume? Perhaps they want to honor their own ancestors? Do you know the person well enough to understand where they are coming from? Halloween has many meanings, one being the honoring of the veil between life and death, light and dark. Costumes, in the olden times, were a kind of protection against evil spirits. Halloween isn’t just candy commercials. Modern costumes, I think, have become much less charming and much more garish and grotesque.

  4. Kathleen B says:

    My daughter read a book about Lewis and Clark. She came home an said she wanted to be Sacajawea for Halloween. I said okay. I asked her what made her want to be her, and she said she thought she must have been brave to go on that expedition. I don’t want to offend anyone by my child’s choice of Halloween costume, but she wants to emulate a strong woman. I don’t see how this is bad. We are not painting her face or wearing feathers. I want her to see beauty in all races, and see strength and determination. I’d rather have her aspire to be a brave Native American than Barbie. Am I incorrect?

  5. Lizard Breath says:

    Native Americans are very fortunate in the sense that they have a heritage, and history that is something to be proud of. Other cultures, unless they are mainly based in their country of origin, Have a shameful past, or one that has been lost, and their ancestors of today, have nothing. Take pride in that. Why keep griping about something. Ignore it. The more attention you give it, just like anything in life,…the bigger it becomes. Take these demons, and use them as fuel to light the way into a new future. Be a guide. not a follower. Keep telling the stories, and passing down tradition. And be PROUD! LIKE THE NATIVES THAT WERE HERE WHEN TIME BEGAN. NOT THE ONES WHO CONTINUE TO LET THEMSELVES BE AFFLICTED BY THE “WHITE MAN”. Poison. Topics like these, are a disease.

  6. Rattle Horn says:

    I have followed this topic and argument for overa year. I have reviewed every opinion onthe topic, and feel that some you who read these postings have wandered away from the undunderlying point of all this arguing. It is not a matter of honoring your ancestors that is the problem here it is the images and messages that are sent by contributing to these kinds of things. If you wish to honor your ancestry what ever it may be that is your right as a living being. However that is not why this topic is under discussion. Holloween is a day of fun and celebration for the american population for some it is a sacred night we th deep meaning, for others it a night of indulgence and debauchery. That being said it is a time of release and restoration in many ways but please keep in mind that the tradition of Halloween was started in order to protect ones self from the imagined dangers of the world a time long ago. The costumes then were of beasts and dark. Creature s. Now a days it is completely different, you can be your favorite characters from movies, from cartoons, from history, religion, and much more. That cant be helped I and that is understandable however, ethnic based costumes strip any people of their dignity as a race, culture, and people. By that I mean that the actions you commit while in that costume whether or not it is your intent reflect your views of the peopl you are ” pretending to be” this goes for any person being any other race as a costume. Not just white. I think they become the most targeted because they are ones who stand out in doing such acts knowingly or unknowingly. However I have witnessed other races doing it to other races. It is a common practice due to our eye for an eye mentalities we have come to rely on. The point is thT people have the right as human beings to be outraged and offended by the actions of others who use their freedom of expression to degrade their people’s image, identity and culture. It is not ok and you say it is when you buy these kinds of costumes because it tells the companies who make them that despite the nature of what it is they are doing they will have a market for this product. I dont have a problem dressing up for Halloween but make it a real costume something appropriate to the real spirit of the celebration. Be your favorite hero , be a monster of legend, be a fictional character, or a person from your own people historic renown because then you are paying homage to YOUR ancestry. Then you are expressing your creativity and individuality. Instead of being labeled ignorant, insensitive, or degrading. With that kind of mindset costumes like that will lose their popularity and eventually disappear al together. That is the issue we face, because if we can resolve this problem, than it shows that there is hope for the resolution of other problems as well.

  7. Chris B says:

    I have been thinking about this for weeks on end, have read the many articles and opinions concerning it and have since, changed my opinion on the issue. Where I eagerly agreed with the Native American take on this in the beginning, I am now thinking I was wrong in my opinion. I do understand what you are saying but I never thought about “intent” before. I believe the American white person owes you much by way of respect and honor but I do not believe that they, dressing as a Native American, diminishes you in any way. While I understand your regalia is tribal based and worn with the greatest amount of deference and respect for who you are, I don’t see the white man as disturbing those sentiments. I see it as a compliment just as I do when I see a person dressing in the costume of any ethnic group. There is nothing disrespectful meant or implied…not at all! If you, as a Native American were to dress in the regalia and have it be incorrect in some meaningful way…I could see that as a measure of disrespect because you should know better in what to wear and how to wear it. You might very well mean an error in regalia as a tribal insult…but we, as outsiders, do not mean any such thing! People all over the world dress as other people in and from different parts of the world and they mean it to be complimentary. Nothing else! So, please stop trying to make it something it is not!

  8. Thank you Melissa, a beautiful explanation. Keep dancing proud. I am so glad to hear tif your commitment. Watching a serious dance effort is a moving experience and a priveledge. Hayu masi.

  9. I have read through all these comments and I can see all sides and understand what you all are saying. However, I do have a question. Have you ever run into a person who dresses up on Halloween for a different reason? Like being able to come out of costume and to be who they really are with out fear of prejudice or judgement for the one day a year. yes there are some in the world who would say this is silly or a stupid thing to do, but as many of you have mentioned each has gone through many trials and tribulations which continue on to this day, and there are a lot of people who are still afraid to admit who they really are simply because of the actions and words of another (which I find to be heart breaking).
    I am not intending to disrespect any one and hope I have not done so.

  10. Ok, I don’t think there is Native American in my bloodline * there could be, but I don’t think there is. which is kind of sad IMO *

    BUT… would it be offensive IF after doing the proper research and making the regalia as true to the history and proper traditions of the tribe that I wanted to honor, for me to wear it, not necessarily on Halloween, * because frankly, unless you are at some kind of party, no one is really going to see it in the dark* but maybe at a pow wow? and what if it was just one piece of jewelry or maybe a pouch? would that be offensive to those who actually have the ancestry that i would be trying to honor?

    because, honestly, I really appreciate all the time and work that goes into the regalia and the traditions behind it all. it is very interesting to me and no i don’t think they were done right by the settlers, no one deserves to be treated that way. they were people too just like the settlers. they should have been treated as people not as inferior race.

    just asking mind you, not trying to start an argument, i only wanted to know

  11. Lizard Breath says:

    I agree with most of what Katrina said, except that White mans God, and greed, are what inspired the feelings of most of these people today. But there are bigger battles. Put on your war paint, and fight the real shite. This is petty distraction.

  12. Melissa says:

    As an Aboriginal woman I do not wear cultural regalia on Halloween. I only wear my regalia at ceremonies that either my family is holding or my family has been invited to. Even within my own cultural family/dance group we don’t just get to put our regalia on and hop on the dance floor-no no no. In my family you have to be chosen to dance, if I’ve been showing up to dance practice’s and family preparations for the upcoming event then I will be more likely to be chosen. Also, I have to be good at dancing to a song in order to be one of the chosen ladies to dance and represent the family. White folks needs to stop thinking they can make a mockery of our culture, not everything is meant for you to take and other people come here and see you behaving this way and start thinking it’s ok to do as well. It’s absolutely arrogant and uncaring to culturally appropriate! Stop it and realize you look like goofs!

  13. Katrina says:

    Wow.. I am so ashamed. I thought I came from a people, a nation of proud warriors. Instead, my people have no ambition. They only aspire to be like everybody else… THE OFFENDED; a nation of whiners! Wake up people before it’s too late. The past is long gone and has nothing to do with you now. Fight the battles at hand. Fight the battles that matter. What someone else is wearing is none of your business, it doesn’t concern you. Children are being murdered in the womb. Where will your souls go after death? Do you know God? He loves you so much he gave his only son to die for your sins. Please take the time to focus on what REALLY matters… God’s battles!

    • Sandra Mcguff says:

      I agree with you. We as being all made by the Creator need to come together as one people…His! All of the injuries and offensive feelings need to be let go of.He created a world of people to give honor to Him, not costumes, cultural differences or hatred.

  14. ChoctawIndian says:

    Honestly, it is offensive and not offensive at the same time. The costumes that have the headband with the feather sticking out the back are kind of disrespectful. Also when white people go around on Halloween with a tomohak shouting Jaronomo or doing the thing when they hit their hand on their mouth and make that sound. And the comment about Thanksgiving, it is okay to celebrate it and stuff, but schools don’t need to tell their students to sit Indian Style. I find that racist. And I don’t think that if the school lets the kids dress up as Indians or White people, that a Native American should have to dress up as a pilgrim, and a white child should not dress up as an Indian.

  15. timothy Watson says:

    How simple minded are we getting? Playing cowboys and Indians is an American tradition that goes back how many of our generations wake up for gods sake look at the movie Avatar what do you think that whole story was about? It was modern futuristic cowboys and Indian’s right down to stealing the Native peoples land yet by societys out come and preseptions that was a box office SMASH just like you IDIOTS getting bent out of shape over the redskins NFL when they were champions winning playoffs and Superbowl games where was they cry baby tears then. Grow UP! Focus on how to further our culture and tribal heritage are important and the use of our native languages are ment to pass from generations because once there gone there gone FOREVER! Focus on getting off the bottle, off the meth pipe, create better housing and schooling for our children. You people crying about all the pettiness and things that are an American past time I truely feel sorry for you! Ask yourselves look in the mirror and ask what have I done and why? May the one Lord of all who have created us please forgive me, for I was shadowed by my own selfish needs,without cause. Please I beg our native brothers And sisters to stand strong and look beyond those who only see things through selfish eyes and want and greed

  16. Buya-Mani says:

    I don’t find it racist that someone wears a Pocahontas costume but what I do hate is that when someone calls my or my sisters regalia a costume I ABSLOUTLY HATE IT when someone does

  17. Ok, I wont ever wear another culture as costume, or will my kids.

    I do want to point out the comments regarding sexualization of Native American women is narrow sighted, women of all cultures are sexualized from Barbie dolls, Halloween costumes, the media, etc.

    I was in in Cherokee NC, during Christmas time, ok yes to go to the casinos, but the Native Americans had change the lyrics to “I am dreaming of white Christmas” to “I am dreaming of a White woman”

    So can we agree there will always be jerks?

  18. David V says:

    I hope that we continue to use these empty spaces to fill with words of debate and argument, of reason and even basic individual opinions. In that, while continuing to show respect for others opinions; educated, misplaced, inexperienced or otherwise.

    Anytime we suggest that one’s opinion is cause to believe they may be mentally incompetent (or too young or inexperienced) of having that opinion, is just a means of saying that our own opinion is of less importance than the ability or need to demean another.

    In that precious empty space of the comment box, we’ve wasted with such poor words only then to lessen our own argument.

    We’re best to show our pride and opinion by wearing our own feathers, not by mocking the colours of another.

  19. David V says:

    As with any debate, it can make a difference if we are talking about one person or a group. One per can be a bigot and may never change. One company who sells “Navajo” labeled clothing can be simply uneducated and disrespectful, and quickly taught to recognize the problem.

    So, as in many cases, changing opinion one at a time can be a strong weapon in changing the greater opinion of a group.

    I am happy that there are growing and voiced concerns and the websites like this to propagate them that we may make reasonable changes to evolve into a unity of recognized and equal groups whether they be cultural, religious, political or social. That this is achieved one day, without fear of the violence we sadly continue to observe as someone’s aggressive attempt to quickly change opinion or gain control.

  20. Rattle Horn says:

    I do not approve of anything that objectifies or underminds any culture or race for profit. If I go into a store and they sell an item as authentic, genuine, or real chinese,mexican, native american or whatever race or culture theyre selling and it is not I ask the store manager to remove it from their inventories as it is culturally offensive, and derogatory. If I work somewhere and someone willingly disrespected any culture or race in front of me I ask them to leave or remove them. And on holloween if I see costumes or clothing of culture/race being worn by someone not of that culture/race I will not allow them entry, nor will I service such a person at my place of businesses, or employment. That is how I combat these kinds of issues I suggest others learn to do the same.

  21. Frederick The RattleHorn says:

    My name is Frederick called Rattle Horn and I am not native american. I am of the people of the Nine Prydes of the Moon. I have read each statement carefully and can respect what most of you have said and many of you have made valid points while others have tried to and failed. I personally feel that any ethnic or cultural “costume” is offensive. whether it be native, asian, or a european anolog. Those of you who find this campain to be racist are rather lacking in intellegence native come in all colors from blond hair and blue eyes, to dark skinned and afro centric. Those of you who claim to be native and do not find this issue to be of importance astound me. I am not even native and I get aggrivated when I see these kinds of costumes, not so much the children costumes as they know no better, and tend to be more modest, but adults should know better. Why is it appealing to make a mockery of any race? why is it ok to have the priest and nun costumes, and the fake afro, and the pimp and hoe costumes it isnt because there is no out cry about them it is because people like you who see nothing wrong with it pay for the costume and support the continuation of it. To the person who asked about the toga and the greek yes that is insulting to greeks because it depicts a negative stereotype of greek ancestory and culture. I thank you for giving the perfect example of other cultures that have to deal with this issue as well. I know holloween for modern americans is all about fun, debauchery, and excessive indulgence but you should keep in mind cultural insensitivity can very well lead to violent action being done to you as a result. That is not to say you deserve to be violated, or molested but it is a reality and a consequence that what you decide to think is harmless may very well be what causes you the most harm. There is more I would say but I belive I have said enough for now.

  22. David V says:

    If discussing Halloween, there should be some thought to the idea that it’s a night of simple fun for kids all the way to a respectful and limited malicious, demeaning or sexy adult behavior for adults. It’s a no holds bar type holiday where we CAN wear blackface and afro if we wish to take a dare, wear a costume celebrating or mocking another culture or one even mocking our own, or wrapped in a rebel flag as long as what we represent isn’t a representation of something most of any culture of race consider offensive — so a ku klux klan robe is out and a Nazi uniform is questionable unless done with humour.

    By the way, if any adult NDN costume I’ve seen in these ads are considered “traditional” then I’m a silverback gorilla. They are mocking derivatives and often based on stereotypes of past bigotry or racism. But that’s where Halloween is the perfect time to wear them. The tradition of Halloween is a sign of respect to allow the spirits of the dead one night of “praise” to recognize the spirits are nonetheless a respected part of a religious belief. So equally, mocking someone for one night is a sign of respect that one has a great respect for that person they mock. Sure that’s not true for everyone. Many folks are just culturally ignorant and stupid, and just worth ignoring. Growing up, I was in that bunch. I’m now happy that through the years I’ve educated myself to understand and respect as many cultures possible. Just not on Halloween night. *wink*

    In an opposite example, it’s like walking under a ladder to warn bad luck to never come around. I could wear a Thai Monk uniform for Halloween to say that I could respectfully never be as devout as a Thai Monk. It’s my night to mock anyone without recourse and to be allowed by that culture that i mock to let me do it. So Vampires beware, I may be mocking you big time this year.

    I agree there’s lots of problems with patronizing a culture for the mere fact that one doesn’t know much about it. I cringe when a guy from Sweden dresses like an “American” cowboy with boots and hat and buckle to portray a North American or puts a feather in his Yankees ball cap and says he an “Indian.” Both are insulting in spirit to me, but I realize also that he’s showing respect. I chalk it up to ignorance. He means little harm. But I can’t say Im offended by anything ONE individual does in that light.

    Seems like we’re often drawing lines in the sand which sadly only weakens a valid argument. When there is a statistic of “1 in 3 Native American women” raped coupled with the sexualization of women by NA costumes, there’s no cause and effect to support that. I’ve never found any woman at a Pow Wow wearing regalia as sexually attractive. I see many beautiful women there, sure, but there’s no direct connection to the attire being specific to NA women dress that triggers all men to then go rape women.

    The problem is far more vast than just a costume. Nothing wrong with looking sexy. That’s an allowed norm in life whether we’re occasionally objectifying men or women whether in ads, tv or whereever, or whether we dress ourselves in that way. But a sexy model in an NA costume, or Cowgirl costume, or Martian, Egyptian or Secretary costume, no matter — that’s a problem if those sexually provacative views are then illogically rationalized by an individual to act towards women or men in a demeaning way. But it’s a problem for any male or female who hasn’t been socially raised to respect everyone’s boundaries and control our actions as we should. Sadly, then we decide as a village to just remove those tempting views from our sight. That’s never worked. The answer goes back to focused on-hand parenting and proper education.

    By the way, does a man in a business suit who looks confident and stronge give a woman a right to slap him in the face if she’s mad? Of course not. But we see both portrayed on TV and magazines constantly that it’s acceptable standard so far that men can be slapped or have a woman touch his chest without recourse. Small point, but double standards abound in all cultures.

    If the stats for all USA women raped, is a little less than 1 in 5 and yet NA women who live on an NDN Rez carry a 1 in 3 stat, then it suggests that those very rez men who should be offended by the mocking of NDN women are among the very ones who are being violent against NDN rez women. Shouldn’t that be addressed, I say rhetorically.

    So the point of the costumes is worth review, but the focus should be more on educating our own, whomever we may be, than to appease our frustration by finding a scapegoat.

    If anyone just ignored that 1 in 5 stat, then that’s where we should start the line.

    One step at a time.

  23. Several years ago I wore a satin Chinese dress (mostly because I like the cut of the dress) for Halloween. My thought at the time was that I was depicting Susie Wong, who, in history, was a brilliant businesswoman somewhat akin to Madonna. My intent was to embody an individual and not represent a culture, like dressing up as Lincoln or, well, Madonna, rather than an 19th Century man or a valley girl.
    I went to an adult party, but someone brought their child, who was Chinese, and boy did that young woman give me a piece of her mind. I tried to explain my intent and she wanted none of it. I left the party, crushed that I had injured someone, and I have never forgotten it. To this day, when seeing the Indian costumes in Halloween megastores, I struggle with that experience and whether my explanation carried any weight at all.
    In fact, I lost the joy I used to have for Halloween since that encounter and now just note the commercialism fed to children for this holiday just like all the others.
    On a similar note, when trying to educate people who defend their use of Native or Tribe reference for their sport team names/mascots, it is very hard to help them understand that if it even offends one person who has experienced oppression, it should be discontinued.

  24. Considerate of ALL says:

    I once dressed in a poodle skirt and bobby socks for halloween. Does that mean that I was mocking my parents generation of white Americans? What about the millions who dress as witches. Are they mocking women since the traditional witch costume is female? Then we must stop witch costumes because it is an insult to women.
    This entire campaign is utterly ridiculous and does far more to set back race/cultural/ethnicity relations than it does to help and increase awareness. Quit trying to sabotage progress by ridiculous, non-merited, frivolous accusations of racism at every turn. You cannot control and dictate every persons behavior any more than you can ridicule and determine their motives as insensitive. You are not a mind reader and the insinuation that all people are insensitive is EXTREMELY offensive. You embarrass the NA demographic with your continuous claims of victimization. NA’s are not a bunch of cry babies.

  25. Blackbear says:

    One more thing… Why does the costume have to be “someone you are not”, but has to be a racial or cultural stereotype? Halloween was originally all ghosts and ghouls for a reason. And there are plenty of costumes that don’t offend someone… Werewolves, vampires, monsters… Fictional characters like Harry potter or ghandalf the grey. When I was a kid I made my own costumes and they were are creature feature type costumes. My kids like to go as characters from anime films and video games…. So why do people still insist on the cheap stereotype costumes that require no imagination?

  26. Blackbear says:

    So ask yourself this… How would you feel seeing someone dress as you but poorly and acting like you but in a non flattering way? How would that make you feel?
    If you’re of Irish descent would you like to be portrayed as a drunk leprechaun waving a shelailai?
    If you’re African America would you feel honored by someone running around dressed like Chaka Zulu waving a spear and making ridiculous vocalizations?
    If you’re Christian wily you feel at peace seeing someone dressed as a priest carrying a bible while drinking and making lued comments at women and joking about hearing all her dirty confessions?
    Or how about being of any culture or religion and seeing what are the finer points of being who you are turned into a joke?
    Would you walk away feeling you are being represented truthfully or honorably? Would you feel like thanking that person for for choosing you for a costume?
    The clothes we wear for powwows and ceremonies have a lot of work put into them. They aren’t cheap to make, nor are they cheaply made. Love and care go into each of them and to see someone poorly and inaccurately wear costumes of who we are is truly insulting. And if that can’t be understood then ignorance is truly bliss.

  27. Julie P. says:

    I will give you do have a point, I wouldn’t not let my kids dress up in “black face” for Halloween.

    I guess I feel there are many more things that are more directly insulting to your culture then kids who want to be Indians for a night and stuck with mass produced stereotyped costumes. ALL costumes are based on stereotypes, right or wrong.

    Ok this also means NO gypsies, because my grandmothers culture are of real gypsy descent. Just so you know, she was Ruthenian, which is a culture that is totally destroyed after the implosion of the former Yugoslavia, There were only 50,000 prior to the difficulties faced there, but now are pretty much no existence due to assimilation. It is a sad bitter truth. As far as being displaced, they were originally from Russia, but Russia considered them trash and moved them to a region they were not from.

    No witches, or warlock cause they are based on practices that are different from my own personal beliefs

    No men dressing in up as big bosomed women, cause they mock women and objectify them.

    No princesses cause we might offend real royal families.

    No brides the feminists may see this as preparing young women for a life of servitude.

    No bloody costumes cause it may upset the families of someone who was a victim of violent crimes.

    • Rattle Horn says:

      Yes, and belive it or not there are demographics that fight to have those costumes bannded just as strongly as we do. Wiccans dont appreciate witches costumes, Travelers Or gypsies for the less educated dont appreciate the costumes made of them, feminists truly do not appreciate the sexualized female costumes. I could go on but I think my point has been made. People these days seem to think just because a costume is clever that its ok to have, or that because its holloween they get a free pass to be ignorant about anothers feelings, and that is just not the case. As for that crack about beliefs holloween is actually called All Hallows Eve, a pagan celebration of the spirit world and physical world being joined for a night. It is not a judeo-Christian practice. So simply participating in the celebrations would be considered going against your beliefs.

  28. Julie Phillips says:

    I personally think being offended by a Halloween costume is a little out there. I can understand you to a point, but Halloween is a time for people to be “someone else”. A ‘someone else” they wish to be like. No one goes out and gets a costume of something they hate. I mean really, I would just sit back and laugh at the wannabes.

    I get it, I served in the military, and come Halloween I will see some adult in a military uniform…I think oh have fun tonight…because truth is that just means you can’t cut it wearing it for real world.

  29. This is completey rediculous. My husband and I are dressing up like native americans this year for halloween. I have no disrespect for native americans. We are just having fun dressing up as someone different. I’ve seen people dressed as Egyptians, kings and queens of different countries, Chinese women, etc. You are making a HUGE deal out of NOTHING. We are just having fun. We are not disrespecting anyone. We just want to have a good time with our friends and family. Give it a rest and stop trying to find offense in something that is not offensive. BTW, an unselfish person is never offended. Stop looking for the negativity in people’s actions and try to see their hearts. You will be surprised that most people are good and not trying to harm or cause offense to others.

    • Rattle Horn says:

      you think someone or even a race trying to fight for their dignity and their image as a people is looking for negativity? You think trying to rid the world of an ignorant stereotype is rediculous? You read these words others have written about how seeing it makes them feel and you say they are making a big deal out of nothing, that you just want to have fun? You accuse them of being selfish for being offended by the fact that the majority of the white populace who where responsible for wiping out their ancestors, taking their ancestoral lands, and sticking them on some of the poorest lands in the Americas. Who ever you are you must not know what that feels like. How would you like it if the race that took from you all you had continued to make a mockery of you with a ridiculous costume that portrays you in an erroneous and negative light? Thats how the costume came into being and it is because of people like you who see nothing wrong with it that stuff like this continues. You think there is nothing wrong with the costumes that because you dont mean to disrespect an entire race and culture that its ok? then do it with Blacks, do it with asians, and go to a place they can see you do it clearly. I doubt you would for your own cowardly safety but also I doubt you would do it because you KNOW IT IS WRONG. I dont even know why I responded to you because people like you dont understand, and people like you never change. The proof of that FACT is even written in your response and I quote ” This is ridiculous. My husband and I are dressing up as Native Americans this year for Halloween.” That statement alone was disrespectful because you basically said others another persons dignity is worthless to you, especially if it interferes with you having fun.

      • To piggy back on Rattle Horn, each bead, bell, ribbon, color and design on regalia has meaning. For example, the jingle dress has a prayer inside every cone. This meaning and how to make regalia is past down from generation to generation. Regalia is hand made. The fact that someone goes to the store, buys a skimpy cheap tan dress with dots of paint on it for beads, that is not historically accurate and is not done in a good way, makes me sick. I spend months making my regalia. The patterns I use are those taught to me by the elder women in my family as they learned from their relatives. When you wear the “sexy souix” or “brave warrior” cheap crappy bag costume, you are saying that history is not important. That my religious artifacts are silly and dumb. That is why I personally wish to eradicate this type of costume from all shelves nation wide. Aho.

  30. Isabel O'Kanese says:

    I am Oji-Cree from the Turtle Clan. There is a difference when settlers wear clothes that mimic traditional clothes, it represents stereotyping and assimilation. When we wear modern clothes we are not doing it to wear “Red Face”, its because we live in modern times. When settlers wear costumes at Halloween it’s the Traditional clothes they are mimicking. We are not dressing up in their Traditional clothes everyday. When these Faux Traditional clothes are wore by the Settlers, it’s to remind us Indigenous people, an important and complex message. A message that we are still being oppressed, that our people are still under attack, there is a power displacement between natives and non-natives and how marginalized we are as Indigenous people. We have the right to tell people to not wear “Our Clothes”. Because what happens is an over-sexualization of our woman, which sends a message that our women are are for sale. The warrior costumes at Halloween deplict our men as savages, a message to everyone that we haven’t evolved; when in fact complex societies existed on Turtle island before Columbus got lost trying to find India. When I see our ppl wear our traditional clothes only at ceremony or powwows, protests and such it’s out of respect for our ancestors. When Settlers wear our clothes it’s out of disrespect and ignorance. Also, after Halloween, the costumes are thrown out which is another message, that even to this day we are still considered disposable as Indigenous people in our own land.

    • Julie P. says:

      I am in agreement with you that people are ignorant, I guess I am surprised that there has not be a bigger push to ban “thanksgiving” celebrations in public schools.

      I am of European descent and I cringe when they dress half the kids as Native Americans and the other half as Settlers. They all sit down like none of the horrific events that unfold ever happened. I cringe that my children have no idea the destruction the settlers caused the native people.

  31. Running Doe says:

    osiyo, with honor, we had cermoney last night, my elders told me not to get into to this any more, for bad comments were made, for among our brothers and siters of all nayive tribes, we must share with one another to the largest deed to the smallest token we must work to keep our circle from being un broken, in our circle is where sharring starts weather talent deeds perhaps other things that take plce in unity, harmony, and love each one playing an an important roll the strength of our circle will not be broken, in honored equality of woman, man, and childern, we must keep the Keetoowah spirit alive always, no more comments, i have been clensed of this, in honor and respect to all, Running Doe

  32. Hello, I would love to hear your thoughts – On a whim I decided that this year I wanted to dress as Native American. That decision led me on the topic of NA appropriation. My biggest concern with the way authors are expressing their concerns is the impenetrable wall they are building between NA culture and everyone else. The wall put up will unfortunately impede the very communication that could help resolve the issues you express. If they could find a way embrace this platform and use it as a teaching tool, to not only encourage the celebration of NA culture but to help change peoples opinions, so much more would be achieved. Instead of creating a ban, teach us how you would like to be portrayed not just on a day as silly as halloween, but in our everyday conversations. If I choose to dress up as a NA I am not dressing up as a weak individual who has a historical past of being taken advantage of and who’s culture has and continues to be abused, but rather as that powerful fierce warrior who fights for her rights, family and culture (much like how the authors portray themselves). Please tell me how can we talk about/portray you and NA culture in a way that doesn’t trigger controversy.

    I am very disappointed by all of the articles I have read and am still unsure of what I will wear come tomorrow at 3:00 pm not because I agree with your approach to the situation (see above), but because I don’t want to draw unnecessary controversy and violence??? I read an article that supported the violence against those who dress up – that was a good approach to the situation…

  33. Running Doe says:

    o,siyo please for give me of what i have said, i am cherokee, and i have my honor, i dont see anything wrong with childern dressing as native s ,for give me with honor of my post, i really havent seen little ones dressed up for,i not have halloween, please for give me, in my honor Running Doe

  34. Mexican and Mexican Americans don’t protest about Mexican costumes that are pretty offensive.
    You take away your own power by dwelling on something so harmless.

    • Rattle Horn says:

      The mexicans and mexican americans dont cry about it because they handle anyone with a disrespectful costume themselves. just because you dont see a campaign against it doesn’t mean nothings being done one way or another. Keep that in mind next time you want to speak on behalf of another race.

  35. I think the issue behind some of these comments, for me, is that if you are going to honor your heritage you should probably do it in a more personal way that pays homage to people in your family tree, rather than to an idealized stereotype of the culture your ancestors came from. For example, if my great grandmother were a member of a native American tribe, I would honor her first by doing research into her life, who she was, and then I might try to understand how she interacted with her culture and her contemporaries. I would certainly not boil my great-grandmother down into a stereotype that dilutes who she truly was. My point is, if it is about honoring your heritage -well, its a family matter first and you should get to know your ancestors before you can honor them by engaging in their culture.

    I try to honor my own heritage by talking to my child about who her family members were and what their lives were like. I do not put on a scottish kilt and paint my face half blue like braveheart and drink whiskey. That would be casting my ancestors into a dumbed-down, hollywood cartoon of who my ancestors were. These were people from my family, why would I mock them in that way?

    • gena short says:

      Get a grip on reality Tim, Halloween is the only holiday that allows people to dress how they want in public. It is not disrespectful and it is not evil. It is a chance to either be yourself or anyone else you want protest is strictly against white people and it is racist. I may be only half white but Im still highly offended at this ridiculous protest. I can go out and find something to be mad at too. But my Comanche grandmother taught me different. She also taught me that anything that singles out once race or the other and tries to put limitations on said race is against civil law.

      • Rattle Horn says:

        You say this protest is targeting whites, who do you think came up with that ridiculous costume design in the first place. You may not find it ofensive but its probably because you dont understand the history of the costume, and how it originated as a holloween mochery of YOUR people. Ill give you a small hestorical fact about the very first time WHITES used the “indian Costumes”. The Boston Tea Party sound familiar. Whites dressed up as Indians to destroy english tea in protest of unfair taxes. Why did they choose indians? It was because even though they had wiped out the native populations with war and diseases prior to this, they thought Native Americans would make better scapegoats than pirates. You want to know why people are upset about this then do some reaserch and learn why.

  36. I am Cherokee and I do not find it offensive at all. just cause people dress like Greeks does that mean they are disrespecting the Greeks? Should we ban all toga parties cause its offensive? just because you find it offensive doesn’t mean it should be banded or whatever. that is ridiculous. If anything it can be a way of remembering and honoring our ancestors. But hey what do I know right? I’m only one little native American….

    • Rattle Horn says:

      To answer your question yes it is disrespectful because toga parties promote alcoholism, stupidity, and ignorant behavior something real greeks have a real dislike for. As for it possibly being a way to honor your anscestors I think you may want to have your head examined. They most likely weep in the afterlife knowing they have you for a descendant.

      • Famtomex says:

        I don’t think that real Greeks have any problems with toga parties (I’ve never heard them object to them) as opposed to ‘Native’ costumes, which deserve to be objected to.

  37. Running Doe Ryder says:

    I truly believe, of white people dressing up as our native people it offends me deeply, Running Doe

    • Saying crap like that makes you sound like a hateful full blood wizard ala Harry Potter.
      White people aren’t muggles.

      • Rattle Horn says:

        It is demeaning to have whites portray other races that’s why they catch so much flack for it. If you understood the history behind it you’d be rather upset about it to.

  38. Gena Short says:

    Your campaign is racist. I am Comanche and Cherokee and Irish. I take offence at your ad. It is aimed at white people. The truth is you cannot tell if someone is American Native descent just by looking at the color of their skin. I am not disrespecting anyone no matter what costume I choose to wear on Halloween. I am proud of my heritage but you are making a big deal out of nothing and using a black man and a white little girl with blonde hair to advertise. In my opinion wearing a native American costume is just a way to pay homage to my heritage without anyone being a butt about it , but now I see that some people are trying to make things complicated.

    • Donna Ghost Bear says:

      It’s regalia not a “costume”. Neon feathers in a cheesy headband is not honoring our culture. It’s making a mockery of it.

      • gena short says:

        Donna Ghost Bear are you blind?? Have you never been to a pow wow? All I see there are neon colors etc.Are you saying The Natives at the Pow wows are making fun of their heritage!? You are a blind fool.

      • Running Doe says:

        Osiyo, dont call me names i am from the Eastern Band Cherokee, N.C. yes i am very proud of my heritage, yes the little ones put pow wow out fits on when we have powows and cermoneys, and i do to i am from my elders and ancesters, we dont dress up on the thing called halloween, that is what i am saying, where do you come from you do not call another native names, called by powers of the Keetoowah spirit you must awaken your heart, and hear it the true Kituwah spirit still lives, we must for ever keep ancesters pride and everyone to strengthen the natives of all, prayers smoke go up for your words, all i said we do not do that halloween, so i really dont think in your heart your native, to act with your words of the way you speak,

    • For all of you ignorant folks out there who think reverse cultural appropriation is real…


      Still need more clarification?


      Forced assimilation is not the same thing as cultural appropriation. Additionally, being Caucasion/white denies you the right to claim cultural appropriation as WE REAP THE BENEFITS OF AMERICA’S RACIAL SYSTEM.

      If you are Caucasion/white and American like me, and are reading this post, you cannot be blind to the invisible system of privilege of which we are a part.

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