Spencer and Heidi Pratt are no strangers to publicity stunts, but their most recent attempt at getting into the tabloids is just plain weird. They have decided to take on “true Native American Names”.
So, from now on Heidi will be known as “White Wolf” and Spencer as “Running Bear”. Could the have picked more stereotypical names? nice one, guys.
Heidi had this to say about their choice to re-name themselves:
”we are getting more in-tune with our spirituality … and will be known as the name our creator has given us – our true native-American names.”
The weird capitalization is how they released it in their statement. But why’d you have to bring the Creator into this?
Of course, the hard hitting journalists over at TMZ did some investigating and called up a nameless “representative” of the Rosebud Sioux who expressed their anger (and rightly so):
“Continued stereotyping such as this by people ignorant of our traditional ways is very disrespectful and only hurts our efforts to curtail these stereotypes.”
And this article even quoted NIEA (National Indian Education Association) as saying:
“They have taken an inaccurate stereotypical approach to enhance their public image which is offensive to our diverse American Indian cultures.”
I think we can all agree that this is a stupid publicity stunt, that comes at the expense of Native peoples and culture. The fact that they tie it in with their “spirituality” and that they claim the names are the “name the Creator has given us” is the most offensive part.
Until 1978 and the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, we as Native peoples had no legal rights or protections to practice traditional spirituality. Natives could be prosecuted for trespassing on federal lands, even if they were attempting to access sacred sites, or could be jailed for the possession of sacred materials, such as bones or peyote. Like all other forms of cultural appropriation, the appropriation of Native religious practices comes out of a history of persecution and marginalization. So, Speidi, adopting Native American names and spirituality is no better than donning war paint and feathers and war-whooping down Robertson Bvld.
Also, can we talk about the quotes from TMZ? First of all, why is the Rosebud Sioux tribe representative of all Native peoples in the US? Why doesn’t your “representative” have a name? That strikes me as strange and a little rude, unless the person desired to remain anonymous (but the article doesn’t note that as the case). Did they just tell an intern “go get a quote from a Native American to include in our post!”?
and NIEA is an amazing organization that does great work in Indian Country and in advancing Indian Education–but they’re being contacted for a quote on Heidi from The Hills? I’m sorry, I’m not going to call up the US department of Education if a Native makes a disparaging comment about White culture. There’s no relationship there. But I guess one Indian organization is the same as another, right? geez.
Overall, if this had come out today (rather than yesterday) I would have chalked it up to April Fools. But, as it stands, it’s just another attempt by Spencer and Heidi to make people talk about them, and clearly it’s working.
The Hollywood Gossip post: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2010/03/heidi-montag-and-spencer-pratt-deny-breakup-rumors-adopt-spiritu/
Examiner Post with NIEA quote: http://www.examiner.com/x-11363-TV-Examiner~y2010m4d1-Heidi-Montag-Spencer-Pratt-not-making-friends-in-Native-American-community