Thinking Twice About Native American Imagery

Thinking Twice About Native American Imagery

The responses to our story last week “I am Not a Costume“, we received dozens of comments on both sides of the issue.

Many of the people in favor of Native American costumes claimed this practice was a way to honor the culture.

If you share that opinion, or know someone that does, please take a few minutes to watch the video below.  Afterwords post a comment about your response to her statements.

About Paul G

Paul G is the founder PowWows.com, who wears many hats as a business coach, photographer, and collector of quirky shirts. Paul started PowWows.com in 1996 while pursuing his graduate degree. With a passion for travel, he and his family hav  traveled the world, capturing unforgettable memories and photos. When he's not coaching or clicking, he's indulging in the magic of Disney.


24 Comments on “Thinking Twice About Native American Imagery”

  • Avatar for jim

    jim

    says:

    This is all just another outward manifestation of being “lost” and trying to find one’s way back. The real issues for Native Americans are: opportunity and equality. I don’t let opinions by Indians bother me in the least. They’ll come around, it may take a few more generations, hopefully not in the “dependent” existence they have allowed themselves to fall for, because until they lose their dependence on Federal money, they will forever remain “dependently sovereign”.

  • Avatar for Scary Blackfeather

    Scary Blackfeather

    says:

    I have some personal strong feelingz about alot of what this lady is speaking about. However, I do not agree w/ much of what she says. What I am taking from her speech is she is offended by the new world portrayal of NATIVE AMERICANS (she repeatedly calls us “indians” which alot of us consider a no-no) but that we as a race should be held to that specific image of us to define our future. I am as proud as the nxt brother or sister of My heritage. Itz the one thing no one anywhere or anytime can take from Me just as everyones else’s sovereignty does. But I think some of us in the nation have some strange notions, as does society @ large, of how to integrate & honor one of the few remaining indigenous ppls of North America. I do believe that the nature of many iconic representation on most levels of american pop & sports society have gone way to far for far too long. And I dnt have high hopes for any change though I continue to be vigil. I was raised in a mixed-race (hate that term) home & I was taught to not see ppl by race but by heart. So in turn I dnt see color or religion when I look @ you. I played cowboy’s & indians when I was a kid. Sometimes I Geronimo but alot of times, I was the Lone Ranger. And seeing little kids whose faces & hearts havent yet been faded by such things as hate or bigotry dressed as squaws & warrior chiefs a few nights a year hasnt offended Me or set the race back one damn bit!! I think in My everyday life as a living breathing navajo/apache native american in the Now, I strive just as much as My neighbors & friends do in theirs regardless of heritage. I am the best I can be for the time I live in. And itz tough to be a the best of both ur heritage & your lifestyle sometimes. But I think we should concentrate on the importance of our goal & not the trivial. They do not define us as proud indigenous race. And nor should we let them. I was born on a reservation not far from where this lady is speaking but was brought up far from it. I have traveled many miles for many moons away from it but hope to return someday very soon after a long absence & contribute all I can to the my tribe. To learn, to teach & to live. Itz a pretty common wish of all nationalities to do so. I intend on taking advantage as soon as possible. And things like holiday party costumes & butter & prideful speeches wont deter or discourage nor incite me in any way.
    For I am native american & itz in me to do so.

    • Avatar for Raven

      Raven

      says:

      I totally understand and respect your viewpoint, as I do every other Native American’s. As a white man, I don’t have a right to say whether or not this offends you. This goes for every other poster here. In my mind, if someone finds it offensive, whether it be for the logo of certain sports teams, or the usage of native regalia used as costumes, then I would not agree with it. Any white person who says “get over it” shows their total ignorance

  • Avatar for Frederick The RattleHorn

    Frederick The RattleHorn

    says:

    First let me qualify this reply by stating, that I, to my knowladge, am not of any native tribe or nation of the Americas. However I still find this topic personally important. I have traditions and customs similar to native traditions and customs. For example I wear feathers in my hair, have a tradition of ritual braiding of my hair, and bare tattoos remarkably similar to Native American designs, but despite not being Native American it doesn’t stop people from assuming I am, and it is because of stereotypes and negative imagery such as the Native American costume during Halloween the perpetuates such ignorance and narrow mindedness. . . I have many friends and colleagues from many nations and understand the anger that comes from these images all to well, I personally dislike these costumes and do not allow them in any establishments that I’m working. I especially find them offensive because I work in bars, night clubs and lounges and have to watch people use these costumes on Halloween to try and get in and get drunk which also perpetuate the negative stereotypes of alcoholism within Indian culture. I dislike any ethnic costume but Native American costumes enrage me the most. I do what I can to stop such ignorance but I’m glad I finally found a video to Express my opinion in calmer, better to understand, and actual Native American perspective. I will be sharing this video on my Facebook page.

  • Avatar for Dana

    Dana

    says:

    I do not see anything wrong with dressing up as Native Americans just like I don’t see issues with dressing up as anyone else from any other culture, religion, etc. It is generally a time of learning. The fact they even think about dressing up as one of those I listed instead of someone walking around with blood covering them and half their face ripped away is a step up I think. No one is dressing up in costume to ridicule or tease anyone. At times such as Halloween its all just fun.

    Now I do not agree with the sexualness of the costumes. Last night there was a mom that brought her daughter by my house to trick or treat and the MOM was wearing a ref costume and the shorts couldn’t get any shorter.. Not appropriate for a childrens trick or treat scene.

  • Avatar for Sam

    Sam

    says:

    I definitely agreed with it. Those costumes are deplorable and disgusting. Most white people don’t get how offensive these costumes are. They are far from accurately depicting native culture. Most natives are very conservative that is why like they would never be caught dead showing their body parts! The buckskin dresses are beautiful but they completely cover and are handmade! The hard work natives do to try to create a positive image is always over shadowed by garbage like this!

  • Avatar for JAMES (STEVEN) BOLTON

    JAMES (STEVEN) BOLTON

    says:

    IM SORRY BUT I THINK ITS OK TO PLAY COWBOYS AND INDIANS IN FACT HEALTHY I WAS TOUGHT ALOT BY HAVING FUN AS A KID I ALSO PLAYED ARMY I WAS TOUGHT ABOUT BOWS AND ARROWS AND GUNS I WAS INSTRUCTED BY MY PARENTS AND RELITIVES ON EACH PART OF IT SAFTY AND SHOOTING STRAIGHT AND NOT HURTING ANIMALS ECT. I HAVE NOTHING BUT RESPECT FOR MY SELF AND MY HERATAGE AND IF I WANT TO DRESS UP MY COSTUME IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN SOME STORE BOUGHT CRAP ITs INDIAN PRIDE MONTH I UNDERSTAND WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY BUT I DO NOT AGREE WITH HER COMPLETELY JOHN WAYNE MOVIES SHOWED ALOT OF INDIANS THAT WERE NOT REAL FAKE AS HELL BUT IT DID NOT BOTHER ME I KNOW THE DIFFRENCE BETWEEN REAL AND FAKE TEACH KIDS AND THEY WILL KNOW THE DIFFRENCE TOO IF SOMETHING IS DONE IN A TASTELESS MANNER HAVE THE WISDOM TO KNOW IT BUT DONT WASTE ANOTHER MINUTE ON IT MOVE ON KEEP YOUR PRIDE DONT LOWER YOURSELF TO LET THEM SEE IT BOTHERS YOU OR US AS A PEOPLE TEACH THE OLD WAYS TO YOUR YOUNG AND PRIDE IN WHO THEY ARE AND DO WHAT YOU CAN TO PROTECT MOTHER EARTH FROM PEOPLE WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW TO TREAT HER PRIDE IN YOUR SELF AND TEACHING IT TO OAR YOUNG IS VERY IMPORTANT BUT TRYING TO STOP COPYCATS IS NOT THE ANSWER TEACHING THE COPY CAT MAKES MORE SENCE TO ME MABY I HAVE IT WRONG IN MOST OF YOUR EYES BUT IT IS HOW I WAS RAISED PRIDE IN YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO NOT WHAT OTHERS DO I WALK MY PATH ALONE IF I HAVE TOO BUT I WILL NOT HATE JUST BECOUSE SOMEONE IMMITATES I LIKE TO THINK I AM ABOVE ALL OF THAT SORRY IF YOU DO NOT AGREE IT IS JUST MY OPNION I DONT WANT TO BE A BAND WAGON AND JUMP ON ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT FIT INTO THE OPNIONS OF OTHERS MY BLOOD IS STILL RED AND MY PRIDE IS STILL MINE NO ONE CAN TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME ESPECALLY NOT LITTLE KIDS TRICK OR TREATING PLS KNOW THE DIFFRENCE BETWEEN PEOPLE TRYING TO BE LIKE INDIANS AND RACEST HATERS OF THE INDIANS AS A PEOPLE.

    • Avatar for Frederick The RattleHorn

      Frederick The RattleHorn

      says:

      I enjoyed your opinion and found your point of view rather interesting. I think you might enjoy a documentary called Reel Injun. Check it out.

  • Avatar for Patricia Pugh

    Patricia Pugh

    says:

    It sickened me to know this is happening to the people that was here before any of us and that it will continue to happen unless people start standing up for each other. I don’t have words for how i feel but proud is not one of them. I have enjoyed this and i will be sending it to all my friends.

  • Avatar for theresa Reed

    theresa Reed

    says:

    Thank you so much for this BRAVO. I am Cherokee and even though I still wear my braids I am so glad that the internet and movies are being addressed. Many times we have been make fun of but have always tried to tell them the truth about our culture. Keep up the good work we must never forget who we are. We must keep teaching and informing all that we can about the truth. Remember your native name and be proud.

  • Avatar for Just me

    Just me

    says:

    Yes… native American women are the most victimized women in the US… but she fails to mention that these women are mostly victimized by native American men. The police they depend upon to protect them are tribal police.

    The problem ISN’T images … the problem is blaming others for your troubles at home. We could wipe out all references to native American costumes and desexualize the media… but that ISN’T going to protect anyone because the criminals don’t care about what the women are wearing. They care about pleasing themselves and getting away with their crimes.

    Oh… and for the record… google the phrase “aunt jemima costume” that HASN’T gone away.

  • Avatar for jeremiah wilson

    jeremiah wilson

    says:

    i think she had some good points but i think she also spoke in some hyperthetical aspect as factual, just cuz u have an native birthday party doesn’t mean you’ll go to teen native parties or such others she spoke of. i am a native cherokee, arapaho , do see no 1 but blacks can say nigga but everyone can say red skin. my skin isn’t red, my blood is.

  • Avatar for Tanurr Rowze

    Tanurr Rowze

    says:

    In the past few years I’ve been made aware of how this is wrong! PLayed as a kid. I have respect for the regalia and Native peoples. This needs to be said that it’s wrong period

  • Avatar for V. Gunning

    V. Gunning

    says:

    I think this lady should get over it. There is too much politically correctness going on. I too am of Apache heritage, and I happen to love my long silver hair in a braid, I love my moccasins, I love everything connected to my heritage but I do not get offended when someone says Indian, or when my granddaughter who is white wants to be an Indian for Halloween or when a football team has the name Redskin. I think in today’s world everything has become sexual, it is not just the Indian costume, how about the French maid, or the Roman toga, even Tinker Belle has gotten sexual. I think it is all a shame but don’t make it just about the Indian. It is everywhere, about everything and everyone…..

    • Avatar for Frederick The RattleHorn

      Frederick The RattleHorn

      says:

      I agree completely that it is just american culture in general that specializes in sexualized costumes, but think of it this way when your granddaughter who gets older gets it in her head to buy a sexy Indian costume, and is revealed that she actually is of Native American descent what’s to stop the men from assuming all of the negative stereotypes regarding Indian women aren’t true of her as well especially because she’s in the sexy Indian costume. I’m not trying to seem self righteous, Im just trying to offer different point of view. it’s not necessarily about the costume as much is what the costume put into peoples heads that she’s trying to fight. this video is about the lack of progress Native Americans have made in changing an image people see in their mind when they think Indian or Native American. a good movie to put this in perspective is the documentry entitled Reel Injun. you can watch it on Netflix.

  • Avatar for John Reynolds

    John Reynolds

    says:

    I agree completely. As a non-Native American who has been a dancer and regalia maker since high school, I was taught by my mentors to respect the customs and beliefs of native cultures. When I dance at local Pow Wows I never take part in any religious dances, only dancing in intertribal or social dances. I have even danced by my self as a demonstration of northern traditional dance (when I was asked by the arena director). It was a great honor although I felt very self conscious at the time. Best regards

  • Avatar for giisheg

    giisheg

    says:

    great speech and all, but she reminds me of Johnny Depp. try hard Indian. to much of the word “INDAIN” .

  • Avatar for WILLIAM FODDY

    WILLIAM FODDY

    says:

    this was an excellent presentation . the american native has been misrepresented for as along as i can remember the sexy squaw is only one of the ways
    the black people have stopped the images of the ahh shucks black man saying it was racist but the showing of the red man has always come out as the dumb savage with the sex stared woman there has been very few attempts to show the truth and give people a real look at their way of life what is left of it

  • Avatar for Cindy Rorie

    Cindy Rorie

    says:

    As someone who is just learning about her Native heritage, I applaud this lady for standing up and reminding people that Native Americans are not what is portrayed in movies and on tv.

  • Avatar for melanie

    melanie

    says:

    Good one! Well said she needs to put this on the news.So more people can hear this.

  • Avatar for Raven

    Raven

    says:

    Absolutely brilliant. I will be sending this out to all my friends.
    I attend many local powwows and through this, have come to know a few. I usually purchase Native jewelry and t-shirts from vendors and wear them regularly. No feathers or headdress but still wonder and pray that I don’t offend.
    Everyone that I ask about this in person has told me that as long as I do it with pride and not using regalia then it’s fine.
    Thank you so much for this video. I wish it could be shown on every network in prime time.

  • Avatar for Blackbear

    Blackbear

    says:

    Bravo! I don’t think anyone has said it better!

    • Avatar for Faith Elisabeth

      Faith Elisabeth

      says:

      POWERFUL. I was totally floored at the Google response to the “Native American Woman” query. All those fictional images! All that fantasy! All that ignorance!
      I just sat here and cried.

      What has happened in this country since the time of Columbus hasn’t changed it seems; we’re still seen as objects, rather than human beings with the same dignity and right to live (not just “exist”) as others.

      I’d never realised the extent of the damage.

    • Avatar for Karese

      Karese

      says:

      I don’t agree with her completely folks!

      I am a descendent of the Delaware & Shawnee tribes originally from the Ohio River Valley, nowadays found in Oklahoma.

      See, as a kid I was fascinated with the Eastern hemisphere. I expressed my sincere & genuine interest by gravitating toward anything I identified with the region. Was I inappropriate for it? No. I don’t think so. I was curious & eager to learn. I’d ask my mother for a “china girl” because I wanted them to adopt me a sister at a very young age. My parents had to teach me that was an inappropriate thing to say even though they knew I meant no offense. The older I grew, the more I learned about the cultures, histories, and traditions not to mention language. Now I’m a cultural anthropology major just shy of my BA.

      I don’t agree with the speakers declaration that if you raise a child permitting things like wearing a paper feather headband, they’ll do it when they’re drinking in college or permit the rape of a young woman because she was dressed like an Americana Indian etc. I think this is too far. We need to focus on educating our children & encouraging them to learn the context, history, etc. of our peoples not put our efforts into shaming parents for allowing a child’s imagination to run wild at a party with a “Pow Wow” theme.

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