So your friend dressed up as an Indian. Now what?

October 31, 2013 — 124 Comments

 

Indians 1

Let’s set the scene. You walk into school/work/a halloween party and are having an awesome day cause it’s Halloween and you are wearing an awesome costume on that has something to do with a current event (without doing something like this or this), or a play on words, or a nerdy reference…because those are the best kind of costumes, duh. Then, in the middle of your joyous revelry, you spot it. Across the room. A friend (or acquaintance, or stranger, let’s not discriminate), dressed as an “Indian.” You know what it looks like. The “buckskin,” the beads, the feathers–probably a headdress of some sort. Maybe some warpaint. Then, if you’re anything like me, you mentally go, “aw, @#$%.”

So now let’s shift to what I go through in these situations, and all of the steps and checks I go through before I engage. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, despite my ability to talk about these issues on here day in and day out, I’m bad at these conversations in real life. I’m getting better, though. Remind me to tell you sometime about my encounter with a Fox News correspondent at DFW airport…

Step one: Who is the person dressed up as an Indian? 

I’ll take a second look. Do I know them? How well do I know them? Are they older than me? Are they younger than me? Are they under the age of 10 (so clearly their parents dressed them)? Is it my boss or someone who has a position of authority that can affect my future life/career?

All of those pieces change the way I’ll approach the situation. I don’t scold children (duh. please don’t go yell at a three year old about cultural appropriation). I think carefully about how my encounter with this person can play out in my future relationships. No one likes to be told they’ve done something hurtful, and these conversations are sticky no matter what. So I do take the time to stop and think. None of those situations stop me from talking to the person (except maybe the babies)–I just approach it differently.

Step two: Am I going to engage? 

I don’t argue that you have to be the costume police every moment of everyday. Yes, I would love everyone to be comfortable confronting racism and cultural appropriation every time they see it, but it’s hard. and scary. So I take a deep breath and take stock of how I’m feeling in the moment. Am I ready to go in? Am I feeling strong and comfortable with my facts and responses to the inevitable push back? Am I hungry? Have I been drinking? Have they been drinking? Do I have a friend or two that is going to come with me and support me? What’s on the snack table? Would I like a cookie first? Maybe I’d like a cookie first. Maybe they’ll see my angry glare from across the room and just leave as I eat this delicious pumpkin shaped cookie.

In all honesty, I don’t confront folks in person a lot. I’m much more comfortable (if I know them) sending them an email later where I can lay out my thoughts and feelings, link to some resources, and let the conversation grow that way.

Step three: Prepare for the response.

I’m saying this from experience. If I go up to someone at a party, and tell them their costume is hurtful and offensive, they’re not going to thank me and take off the headdress. The first response, 99.9% of the time, will be defensiveness. Which, of course, makes sense. They’re standing there in a skimpy costume with warpaint on, they’re going to be embarrassed. They’re going to defend their choice.

Here is exactly what they will say to you. People aren’t original with how they defend their costumes. and here are things you can say back. Feel free to change “us” to “them” if you’re non-Native, and realize when I say these things in person they’re accentuated with a lot of “um” “like” and long awkward pauses. Remember–use “I” phrases, “I’m hurt by your costume,” “I feel…,” “I think…” rather than “YOU’RE A DIRTY RACIST!!!” That doesn’t work.

I didn’t do it to be offensive

I know. I realize you didn’t pick the costume to be offensive. I’m not saying you’re a bad person–I’m just saying that these costumes are really hurtful to Native peoples, because they turn us into fantasy creatures based on harmful stereotypes.

Dude, get over it. You’re being way too sensitive. It’s just Halloween. 

It might be “just” Halloween, but these issues play out all year as well. The costumes and stereotypes are just symptoms of much deeper issues. (If you want the fuller response to this, which is better suited for email conversation, see the end of this post)

Again, get over it.

Again, I’m just saying that your costume is hurtful and offensive to Native peoples, and that you might want to reconsider wearing it next time. But telling me to “get over it” doesn’t help the situation.

ETA (11/1): Since much of the internet is apparently too dense to click on the 10 links I put at the bottom–I put a longer response to this at the end as well. Seriously, guys, these comments are ridiculous. There are plenty of reasons “why” this is hurtful. 

I’m Irish and I don’t get offended by that dude in a leprechaun costume over there. 

That’s good. But a leprechaun isn’t a real person, and there’s not a contemporary community of Leprechauns who are undergoing active colonialism and actively fighting misrepresentations. I totally feel for all those leprechauns living in poverty while the US government continues to systematically marginalize them through ongoing policies that ignore their inherent sovereignty and Indigenous rights to the land. While the Irish may have had a history of oppression in the US, no one can argue that they are still marginalized or would be categorized as anything other than part of the majority culture.

If that’s too wordy?

Dude, Leprechauns aren’t real people.

I’m Pocahontas/Tiger Lily/an Indian from Peter Pan/a historic figure/other fictional character!

That’s cool, but all of those were based off of the same hurtful stereotypes. Have you SEEN Peter Pan? “What makes the red man red?”? Really? Pocahontas might seem like a “good” stereotype–but she’s still an oversexualized woman who talks to animals and trees and is only famous because she saves a white dude. If you were the “real” pocahontas you’d also be 9-12 years old.

But are zombies offensive to the zombie peoples? What about Cowboys? Doctors? 

Zombies are not real (YET), cowboys and doctors are a profession. Not a group of marginalized people. Yes, I think geisha costumes, mexican costumes, pimp costumes, and any other racialized costume are offensive too.

and their trump card, always:

I’m Cherokee Indian, so get off my back! or alternatively, My great-great-grandma was Cherokee (maybe even a princess!), so get off me.

This is my favorite. Because then I go, “ᎣᏍᏓ! ᎣᏏᏲ! ᏣᎳᎩᏍ ᎯᏬᏂᏍᎩ?” (“Osda!! Osiyo! Tsalagis hiwonisgi?” “Good!! Hello! Do you speak Cherokee?”), which is really about the limit of my Cherokee language, but usually is pleeeenty to freak them out. But that might not work for all of you.

That’s great. and I encourage you to learn more about your heritage, because Cherokee regalia looks nothing like that. We don’t wear plains warbonnets. And when you learn more, you’ll see that Cherokee folks who know and respect their heritage would not be walking around dressed like that. If anything, being Cherokee holds you to a higher standard. This is not how I would honor my heritage, ever. Also, we don’t have, nor have we ever had, “princesses.” So you might want to check your facts.

Step Four: Think about what you’re hoping for from the conversation

Honestly, the best outcome is you get them to think. That’s all I hope for, most of the time. I hope they’ll go to the bathroom at the party, catch themselves in the mirror and think, “was this a bad idea?” I can hope they’ll reconsider next time. I can’t hope to change the way they think forever, but I can start them on the journey. I don’t ever expect the person to start crying and apologizing and to take off the costume right then and there. Though it can happen. If you set your expectations before going in, you won’t feel beat down when it’s over.

Step Five: Engage

So I’ve decided to talk to the person. Deep breath. I think an easy opening line is: So talk to me about your costume. Not accusatory right off the bat, gives you some time to assess how best to proceed. But, if I know them really well, I’ll go with: Dude, what are you wearing? You know what I do and what I write about on the internet all day, right? 

Step Six: Go get another pumpkin cookie

Cause they’re seasonal and delicious.

If you decide an email convo after the fact is easier, here are some handy resources from the blog for you:

Open Letter to the Pocahotties (the annotated version)
Your one stop for all your “Indian Costumes are Racist” needs!

Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors This Halloween
But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?
Nudie Neon Indians and the Sexualiztion of Indian Women
A Cowboys and Indians Party is just as bad as a Blackface Party 
Paris Hilton as a Sexy Indian: The Halloween Fallout Begins (includes lots of links about the costume issue)
Mid-Week Motivation: I am not your costume

And the long response to “Why Halloween matters” (directly lifted from my “Why Tonto Matters” post, just swapped out “halloween” for “Tonto”–because it’s my writing and I can do that, ok?):

Yes, unequivocally, we have big things to tackle in Indian Country. We have pressing and dire issues that are taking the lives of our men and women everyday, and I am in absolutely no way minimizing this reality. But we also live in a state of active colonialism. In order to justify the genocide against Native peoples in this country, we must be painted as inferior–that’s the colonial game. These images continue that process. The dominant culture therefore continues to marginalize our peoples, to ignore and erase our existence. We are taught everyday, explicitly in classrooms, and implicitly through messages from the media, that our cultures are something of the past, something that exists in negative contrast to “western” values, and something that can be commodified and enjoyed by anyone with $20 to buy a cheap plastic headdress. These stereotypical images like your halloween costume feed into this ongoing cycle, and until we demand more, our contemporary existence (and therefore the “real” problems in Indian Country) simply doesn’t exist in the minds of the dominant culture.

How can we expect mainstream support for sovereignty, self-determination, Nation Building, tribally-controlled education, health care, and jobs when the 90% of Americans only view Native people as one-dimensional stereotypes, situated in the historic past, or even worse, situated in their imaginations? I argue that we can’t–and that, to me, is why Halloween matters.

11/1 Edit: The long (and angry) response to “get over it”:

You know why I can’t get over it? Because when I look at you in your bastardized version of my culture, I can’t help think about my ancestors. Who wore clothing maybe something like what you’re trying to imitate, albeit not cheap ass fabric from the costume shop, and were considered “savages” and “animals” by the US. Whose lives were considered disposable. Who were considered impediments to the “march of progress.” Who were slaughtered by the millions by disease and weapons brought by colonialism. I think about the thousands of Indian children, including my family, forcibly sent to government-run boarding schools where when they showed up wearing an outfit like yours, they were forced to wear western clothing, have their braids cut, and would be beaten if they spoke their Native languages. The goal was to erase all of their culture, to “kill the Indian” but “save the man.”  I see you with your “peace pipe” and “eagle feathers” and think about how until 1978, Native peoples weren’t allowed to practice our own spirituality with those objects because it. was. illegal. Today, the ongoing issues in our communities are direct results of these colonial practices, and it hasn’t slowed down. This isn’t ancient history. This is present day. Now, it’s suddenly “cool” and “trendy” to rock Native “costumes”? So society is saying, “Hey Natives, we had the power to convince everyone that your cultures were savage and backward, but guess what! Now we have the power to change our minds. Those things we thought were so bad? We miss them. But of course, you have no power over this situation. No matter what–you, as silly primitive beings, can’t change how we portray you. Your cultures and identities are ours to control. And while we’re at it? All those cultural markers of clothing, jewelry, and spirituality that we’re now so anxious to buy? We’re gonna make them ourselves. Or, a factory in China is going to make them. So really, we don’t actually need you now either.”

So yeah, you might think you’re “honoring” us, or being “respectful”–but I look at you and just see you honoring a legacy of colonialism that openly tried to erase my people from the planet. That’s not respect. So no, I’m not going to get over it.

 

Oh, and if you’re not sure if your costume is racist? A handy flow chart.

If you have any firsthand stories you’d like to share, or other techniques, feel free to share in the comments. I know this isn’t perfect, by any means. Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • bugmom58

    Adrienne-you rule!! I wish I would have known that comeback when I engaged a swimsuit company owner. Her company is called Boys and Arrows and they appropriate like crazy, I called her out and she answered back-”I have Cherokee blood running through my veins”. I told her if that were true she would have more respect for her culture, you just can’t win with some people. But-keep on fighting!

    • Andre Moore

      How dare she not know her place.

  • 10100111001

    Location:Central Square Cambridge MA
    Time 5:30 Rush hour commute last night

    Person: Pochahottie

    Me: Excuse me. Disneys Princess Pocahontas is an affront to the very idea of the sociopolitcal nature of eastern woodlands pre-contact representative democracy. we could go on on how the movie as a whole reinforces both terra nova and manifest destiny, aslo you are sexualizing a tween who ended up in a forced marriage and died alone thousands of miles from her parents. I could go on but I have a Bus to catch AND YOU”RE AN ASSHOLE

    • Adrienne_K

      haha, nice work!

    • Max_Taffey

      Guess what? Assuming this little vignette actually happened outside of your imagination (which I highly doubt), the asshole is actually you.

      • 10100111001

        that would hurt from someone who hasn’t been a consistent Men’s Rights crusader.

  • http://www.myspace.com/krantzstone Krantzstone

  • Yvonne Dennis

    Thanks for sharing. It is hard to always be the “police’ when we just want to have a good time, too. But if we don’t address these stereotypes about all groups, we are indeed perpetuating them.

    • Max_Taffey

      Perpetuating what exactly? Perpetuating the idea that indigenous American people wore war paint? Or fashioned clothing out of animal skins? Why is this wrong? The reputation of the people these costumes attempt to represent was a reputation for being innovators, for being resourceful, and stewards of their land. Do you truly believe anyone looks at a Halloween costume and thinks,”Ha ha! Native Americans sure are primitive! Look how they dress!”???

  • http://www.thehomemadecreative.com/ Alena@TheHomemadeCreative

    I grew hearing all the crazy “thing of the past” crap. I know it’s crap. Problem is…I’ve never been given anything to replace the crap, and don’t know where to start looking for myself (how do I know what I find at the library isn’t more crap?)… I did grow up playing “cowboys and indians”, but I also knew a number of Indians (I’m sorry, I’m honestly not sure what word I’m supposed to use), so I did see them as people, not just story characters. My husband has a great great grandmother who was…shoot, I can’t remember. I want to say Shoshone, but I’m not positive that’s right. Anyway, it’s reinforced my desire to figure all this out, so that as we’re raising our own kids, we can be a better example to them – and better people, in general.

  • tom

    i think it’s also important to call out white people to engage these racist costumes more. i think too often, the responsibility to do so falls on non-whites and the situation gets flagged as just a “angry person” issues.

    • Andrew Payne

      Wow you just assume it’s white people doing it, that’s not racist.

      • tom

        i’m pretty sure that you’re misunderstanding what i said, or i didn’t explain it clearly enough. my main point is that more white people who consider themselves allies to issues of equity need to speak up. too often, the responsibility of calling out racism falls on people of color and that just gets exhaustive and most often, it becomes an issue that only affects the race being affected.

        racism between non-white races is just as problematic as racism from whites, but the reality is that white people in most developed nations have benefited the most from racism in general. your tirade about examples are mostly straw man arguments. i’m not interested in talking about citing examples of how one race was really racist against another because at the end of the day, those races have not benefited the way that white people have from systemic racism.

        “the only way to stop racism is not to stop being a racist yourself.” i would agree with that if people hadn’t been taught all these misconceptions about various races whether they’re white, black asian, brown, whatever. these racist misconceptions have also been internalized unconsciously which has led to model minority myths, boot strap myths, etc. racism does not require intent, but the result are the same– somebody has exercised oppressive power over someone even if they did not mean it.

      • tom

        i’m pretty sure that you’re misunderstanding what i said, or i didn’t explain it clearly enough. my main point is that more white people who consider themselves allies to issues of equity need to speak up. too often, the responsibility of calling out racism falls on people of color and that just gets exhaustive and most often, it becomes an issue that only affects the race being affected.

        racism between non-white races is just as problematic as racism from whites, but the reality is that white people in most developed nations have benefited the most from racism in general. your tirade about examples are mostly straw man arguments. i’m not interested in talking about citing examples of how one race was really racist against another because at the end of the day, those races have not benefited the way that white people have from systemic racism.

        “the only way to stop racism is not to stop being a racist yourself.” i would agree with that if people hadn’t been taught all these misconceptions about various races whether they’re white, black asian, brown, whatever. these racist misconceptions have also been internalized unconsciously which has led to model minority myths, boot strap myths, etc. racism does not require intent, but the result are the same– somebody has exercised oppressive power over someone even if they did not mean it.

        also, i’m pretty sure that if any people have a reason to distrust white people, it’d be native americans, for example, “here are some nice blankets for you” or “let me take you to this nice school to teach you how to speak english.”

  • DaveMiller135

    Or you could get a grip and realize it’s basically a children’s holiday about dressing up as something you’re not. And save your anger for something of substance.

    • Adrienne_K

      Thank you for adding that insightful comment to the conversation.

  • Kyle Campbell

    Is it possible for the author of this article to simply mind her own business and enjoy the festivities without resorting to such comments? If you feel so passionate about the subject, then write a thought-provoking article and submit it to the Huffington Post or Salon.com so I’ll know where to avoid such bleeding-heart rhetoric. At least then you won’t bring the party down.

    • samthor

      Better yet, maybe the author should just start her own blog… give a really specific title…. .like…. “Native Appropriations” so people know exactly what they are getting into when they come here to read the articles…. or did that go right over you head as well?

    • Susan White

      Um Kyle. Did it go over your head that this whole site is about “Native Appropriations”? She’s been invited other places to talk about these issues and has been interviewed and quoted before. Like Samthor said below, the title of this site should tell people exactly what they’re getting into.

  • Eva

    since you’re dressing as White person 365 days per year, I will dress like an Indian one day per year :)

  • Pablo

    Compared to drone strikes and government spying on it’s own citizens (I was taught that was bad in 1984) people wearing offensive Halloween costumes really doesn’t rate.

  • http://slyck.com/ zbeast

    it’s not like your friend air brushed his skin red..

    there’s nothing wrong with dressing in headdress and face paint.

    I would consider it no different than dressing as a soldier, cowboy, cop or bank robber. its a costume.

    it’s not the same thing as someone putting on black face..
    Dressing as a pimp… fine, dressing as a pimp in blackface bad.

    • samthor

      try actually reading the article….. try actually visiting a reservation. show up in your plastic feather headress and war paint and tell the tribal people (whose ancestors were probably slaughtered by your ancestors) that their sacred cultural regalia is. just. a . costume.
      let me know how that works out.

      • Amy

        So you are assuming everyone who comments here is not only white but also an American whose ancestors were in America at a time the Native Americans were slaughtered I can only speak for myself but personally my grandparents only landed at Ellis Island in 1921.I guess you have never heard of immigration or even the fact that the internet is actually used world wide.

        • samthor

          i actually looked into their profile… and the genocide against Native Americans didn’t end before 1921…. it’s still going on… today… the land is still being stolen, the treaties are still being broken. the people are still being raped and killed. and that fact that you do not know this…. makes you part of the problem. …. hence it is offensive for you to dress like a Pretendian like its a happy fun- time costume.

          • Amy

            I’m pretty sure all people of all races are still being raped and killed. I truly doubt my Italian grandmother in Ithaca, NY was raping and killing Native Americans she worked in a school cafeteria she was pretty harmless. Is it racist to dress up like a Rabbi? How about the Dalai Lama? Both are tied to genocide but you don’t hear a lot of yelling and screaming from them do you?

      • Andrew Payne

        They slaughtered them back when they could. Sometimes they started it.

    • Andrew Payne

      Apparently the only offensive village person is the Native American.

  • Andre Moore

    As a non American I’m struggling to figure out how it is hurtful to American Indians? Is it that it is a poor copy or innacurate representation of traditional AI costume? Or is it simply the copying the copying of American Indian dress? Is the traditional dress offensive – I’ve seen pics of Indians wearing it in Nat Geographic. In that case how is it different to say dressing as a Dutch person with clogs, or in a Saudi headdress or dressing up in traditional Mandarin Chinese garb? I see many women have now incorporated chinese style dresses into their modern wardrobes? Would the pilgrim outfit be innapropriate? Is it only innapropriate to copy the dress of the traditionally oppressed?

    • Marion Geer

      THANK YOU! And notice how nobody replied to your questions? They are valid and accurate.

      • Susan White

        Someone DID reply to his questions. They were all answered in the links that were cited in the article. Most “costumes” are bastardized versions of traditional dress. They often mix items from different nations into one or are such poor replicas that they make me cringe. Yarn braids with plastic beads. Fake feathers. etc etc As the other person who replied said, read the articles cited in the links, starting with “But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?”

        • Andrew Payne

          What if someone wore the aforementioned leprechaun costume with a big pilgrim hat mixed in, that wouldn’t be offensive in the least. So someone wears items imitating dress from different native American nations, and it’s somehow different. If someone wore a genuine traditional monocultural outfit, you’d be even more offended at how they’re wearing it without being an accepted member of the tribe.

          • Sara S Lebensold

            1) Did you really just compare leprechauns to indigenous people? Didn’t the article already note that leprechauns AREN’T REAL?!
            2) “Why is it ok for native americans to wear modern western clothes” – wow. seriously? um because through the law we assimilated them into the “white man’s culture” and they had little choice if they wanted to be taken “seriously” by government. Do you know anything about the residential school system? Relocation?
            3) Also, the Indians aren’t dressing up as “white men” they are simply wearing jeans.

        • Andre Moore

          I read it, basically it boils down to ‘cultural appropriation’ is wrong, but does not explain why. What does wearing a Hipster scarf from East Africa (scarf is now associated with Palestine) have to do with oppressing that particular set of people – who, by the way, are not even considered an oppressed group in their own homeland (the East Africans)?

          • Susan White

            Deliberately obtuse a lot? Since you said you read “it” does that mean you read just the one link? There are several cited there. Since you seem to have missed it, the article about not wearing a “Hipster Headdress” is referring to the people who wear the fake war bonnets and such, not scarves from East Africa. smh

            • Andre Moore

              I’ll quote from that page itself :

              “I own several fringed hipster scarves”

              Then she got blasted in the comments section, rightfully so, how does she get to decide who is worthy of more respect than others.

              “those “fringed hipster scarves” are actually keffiyehs and that comment is actually hugely offensive.”

              Which just went to show the sheer hypocrisy and ridiculousness of the entire argument.

    • samthor

      contained within the article are several links ALL explaining why it is offensive. start with the one titled “But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?”

    • Andrew Payne

      It’s not some people don’t understand that everything isn’t a racist insult to their people.

    • andrewwiggin

      I would guess that it is only inappropriate to copy the dress of the historically oppressed. For example, would you think it amusing if people dressed up – or dressed their children – in Holocaust-style striped pajamas? Amerindians suffered their own holocaust somewhat farther in the past but their descendants (many of whom still live miserably in ‘camps’) are still sensitive about what happened to their grandparents. Let’s be considerate enough to avoid bringing up painful memories, ok?

  • Max_Taffey

    Every Halloween I see someone dressed as a Viking. Amazingly I don’t know anyone that marginalizes modern day Scandinavians as brutal invaders and plunderers. I have witnessed people dressed as Roman Centurions or gladiators yet I manage to Avoid applying these stereotypical costumes to Italians. I’ve seen sexy Nuns and zombie priests, costumes that apparently mock sacred objects of Catholicism, yet no one gets offended or outraged. Want more? I could go on and on…

    • Adrienne_K

      I don’t know a community that actively identifies as “viking” and is currently marginalized. All of your examples? Groups in power. The power differential is what makes this an issue. Please try again.

      • Toodleoo

        Why are you getting so worked up about this? I’m a (real) Indian – a minority (from a group that wasn’t “in power” and suffered injustices like you speak of) – and I’ve seen people dress up like Indians and haven’t taken offense to it. (BTW- what does being “in power” or not being “in power” have to do with making this an issue? It’s okay to imitate or “mock” another marginalized group because their ancestors were once “in power”?) The whole point of Halloween is to dress up as something you’re not – and yes, I read your article in its entirety, I just don’t find any validity in your arguments. I think you are entitled to your opinion, but to get this mad about it and criticize others who voice their opinions is distasteful. FYI- the headline of your article itself is offensive, whether or not you later use Indian in quotes.

        I think if you live and let live you would be much happier and less negative! You don’t have to respond to every comment with an aggressive comeback. People have a right to voice their opinion same as you.

        • 10100111001

          Its kinda shitty of you to imply Ms. Keene isn’t indigenous.

          Is i because she does not present as Full Blood?

          Blood Quantum was a tool of genocide: it was a system put into place to quantify us based on non indigenous philosophys of kinship and citizenship in order to breed us out ….

          • Toodleoo

            I’m not sure what you’re talking about as I never imply that she isn’t indigenous in my post. I don’t think her being or not being indigenous has any bearing to my comment or the point I was making.

            • 10100111001

              (real)

              • Toodleoo

                Let me clarify. I meant “real” as in I am a real INDIAN, as in from Southeast Asia. From India. This point and this exchange reinforces my point about how the headline of the article, “So your friend dressed up as an INDIAN,” is offensive itself.

                • 10100111001

                  no, it reinforces the mistake that happened in 1492 at contact with what became know as the Americas. The colloquial term and legal term of (American) Indian has been perpetuated for 500 years to group a diverse population of over 500 nations into an homogeneous group, the term is doubly offensive since there is and was 500 years ago an actual place called India, with Indians.

                  • Toodleoo

                    So, the author of this article is herself perpetuating this offense by continuing to refer to Native Americans as “Indians”. That is the point I was making in that statement. Instead of the author getting so bent out of shape about people dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween maybe she should stop referring to those same Native Americans as “Indians” when it’s very common knowledge that that term, used in this context, is offensive.

                  • Bob Singer

                    Actually you are slandering both the Spaniards and the Italians, since in 1492 an Italian funded by Spaniards landed in the Caribbean no where near the Continental US. It’s not the fault of Cristobal Colon that others called the aboriginal Americans “Indians”.

                    • 10100111001
                    • Bob Singer

                      The lands he found and the people he found were not the aboriginal Americans, but were the natives of the Caribean Island of Hispanola. They have nothing to do with the peoples of the east coast of the Americas. So who started calling the aboriginal Americans of the east coast Indians? No one knows. Don’t blame Cristobal. He called the Tainos “los Indios”. Anyone else who was called that should have corrected the person at the time. According to a 1995 U.S. Census Bureau set of home interviews, most of the respondents with an expressed preference refer to themselves as “American Indians” or simply “Indians”; this term has been adopted by major newspapers and some academic groups, but does not traditionally include Native Hawaiians or certain Alaskan Natives, such as Aleut, Yup’ik, or Inuit peoples. So let’s quit with the argument that the term is offensive. The peoples of India don’t call themselves Indians, the collective term in use locally to describe most of these peoples is “Upajati”. Seems like you have your own issues to deal with.

                    • 10100111001

                      Im sorry but you’re wrong. No where in his writings is the term los indios used. He thought he was in indonesia. Indian at the time was a collective term for all the people of southern asia, and had been since roman times.

                      And even if I you cant seem to read the link I provided you that explains that I dont give to shits about slandering a man WHO FED BABIES TO DOGS FOR FUN

      • Andre Moore

        How about a traditional chinese costume, they were marginalised and oppressed esp during WWII?

      • Andre Moore

        Indian Sari’s? Western women using chinese parasols? Mexican Sombreros? Chewing kat? Taking Indian food and changing it to suit our own tastes (Chicken Tikka)? Any curio bought representing a tribal tradition?

      • Andrew Payne

        Why don’t you explain why you implied pimps are only of one race? I guess if you’re being offended at what you think is racism it’s ok to practice it against others.

    • 10100111001

      Catholics have their own standing army and country that you need a passport to get into… I really dont think they qualify as oppressed.

      • Andre Moore

        Dressing as an Amish? They’re a minority religion, in the battle of who is allowed to be offended, surely they get some street cred?

        • 10100111001

          Have you asked yourself why you would want to dress as an Amish person, and if an Amish person ran into you dressed like that, how would they feel about it….. start there.

          • Andre Moore

            Maybe I don’t have any cultural traditions – well I do – its just that a lot of western culture is now world culture – through colonisation/media etc.etc. And I get that. However there’s not much a person could do that I would get worked up about. The Piss Christ paintings? Meh! Although Muslims (who aren’t necessarily oppressed) are offended by Allah cartoons? I suppose things like violations of human rights? Animal cruelty? The question to ask is: Am I not offended because I am of the dominant culture – or is it because my culture does not offend easily?

  • DaveMiller135

    The treatment of the Native population of this continent by the US government is a genuine scandal. Is there an agreement we haven’t broken? If so, just wait for it. I just happen to be opposed to those who want to suck the fun out of life to serve tangentially related issues.

    • Sara S Lebensold

      It’s too bad you don’t see the connection. And yes racism does ruin peoples’ fun doesn’t it?!

      • Bob Singer

        Do you see the racism in stereotypical Viking costumes as making fun of the Scandinavians? What about Amish costumes or Puritan costumes as offensive to the descendents of early settlers or Mennonites? Get over it. Pretending to be what you are not for Halloween has nothing to do with racism and if you are offended at the costume, don’t look.

        • Andrew Payne

          Apparently you must be a member of a culture to wear a costume even reminiscent of it or you’re a racist hater.

          • Sara S Lebensold

            These costumes are not accurate historical depictions!!

        • Sara S Lebensold

          It’s about the historical context – they are victims of genocide and marginalization – it’s not the same as with the Vikings (who were conquerers by the way). That’s what makes this different. Also as I wrote below they are not accurate costumes.

        • tom

          if you think that blackface is not ok, then wearing any sort of costume that is demeaning to any person’s race should be out of the question. if you think blackface is ok and just a joke, then you’re just a lost cause and you should not have anything to do with the development of any human being.

  • Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard

    I, for one, take great offense to those who elect to adorn their pubescent faces with stick-on mustaches and beards. If you want a mustache and a beard, you must work for it!

  • CooperNick

    What if they are Sacagawea? I had a student dressed as her today. She’s like 9 and white / Latina, but in her case or in general, what about Sacagawea?

  • Marion Geer

    I am German and my family has gone through the Holocaust (on the anti side) and I really don’t like people displaying swastikas. So, would I take offense to someone dressing up as a Nazi? Oh yes. The same way you could take offense to someone dressing up as a cowboy because they were the ones doing most of the damage to the Natives. However, wouldn’t it be a compliment if someone dresses up as an Indian? You said yourself that none of their costumes are accurate which proves in itself that it is just for Halloween.

    There are lots of benefits and accomplishments for and among Indian tribes. There is the tribal TANF, the tribal energy self-sufficiency act, the native American energy and self-determination act, the ANA self-sufficiency program, the self governance tribal program, etc.

    Looking at all those achievements, attacking a fake and inaccurate costume during Halloween is grasping for straws and does nothing to support your legitimate mission. It weakens it, IMHO.

  • casbar

    We are never going to get over race and bigotry so long as all you people care about it so much. Make it a thing of the past and just shut the fuck up over it.

  • JDDurr

    I’m Mormon, and it does bug me a little when people dress up as Mormon missionaries, so I kind of understand where you’re coming from. Not a big enough deal for me to approach the person, though. Mildly uncomfortable, maybe, but not bigotry.

    (Don’t mean to suggest that modern Mormons have it as hard as modern Native Americans, but it is true that we too are “actively fighting misrepresentations,” so I think the comparison is at least somewhat apt in this context.)

    • Andrew Payne

      I must say I have never seen or heard of anyone dressing up as a mormon missionary, and really don’t see how it would cross their mind.

    • Sara S Lebensold

      It’s not apt for this context, sorry, you have not undergone genocide.

  • Zymm

    I’m curious. What if it was a well researched and accurate representation of the traditional dress of a particular tribe? Would that still be offensive, or would that be okay since it’s not adhering to a stereotype?

    • samthor

      if you really …really … researched the culture of a particular tribe you might realize why it is offensive to wear sacred regalia as a Halloween costume get drunk, puke and fall down in….

      • Zymm

        That doesn’t really address my question. I didn’t mention sacred regalia, nor did I address the behavior of the person wearing the costume. Would a well-behaved, sober person, wearing the well researched and accurate everyday dress of a particular tribe still be offensive?
        It seems a lot of this argument hinges on the difference between appreciating a culture and stereotyping a culture, and I’m trying to figure out where that line is.

        • 10100111001

          Im Mohawk or better yet, Im Rotinnonshonni Kanienka’hakehon you know what I wear most every day? a Business casual wrap dress, and on the weekend, jeans and a t shirt. My Father wore jeans and a flannel shirt most every day of his life (save the 4 years he was in the Marines)… My grand father wore a boarding school uniform till he was 18, and then a military uniform then jeans and a fannel, , my grand mother in her younger years wore a boarding school uniform, then factory coveralls, and then as she got older alfred dunner polyester blouses and slacks…

          Oh, you mean every day dress from at least a century ago…. Ok well My great grand fathers and my great rand mothers wore boarding school uniforms, and then US and Canadian Military uniforms, and maid uniforms…….

          You mean farther back than that?

          Ok well, my great great grandparents wore the same thing as my great grand parents…

          Oh you mean before that??
          Well, that puts us at civil war time period, and we still wore cotton trousers and dresses…

          Oh you mean before that….

          get my point? your forcing tribes to exist in the past, pretending we are not here now… today

          • Zymm

            Wouldn’t that apply to any historical costume? I’ve dressed up in clothes in the style of Victorian England as a Halloween costume before.
            For a more specific example, a few years ago I vacationed in Vietnam. In Hoi An there are a lot of tailors and I had some clothes made. One of the styles they offered was the historical dress of the region. They talked me into getting one of those along with the other things I had made. Turns out it’s very comfortable for hot weather, and I often wear it in the summer. Should I be worried about offending Vietnamese people? (I certainly hope not, as I’ve said, it’s very comfortable.) Is it different because I’m wearing it as an ordinary article of clothing and not a costume?

            • 10100111001

              When you said you want to dress as a well researched and accurate everyday dress of a particular tribe. I answered your question.

          • Andrew Payne

            If you let a costume force your entire people to live in the past just wow.

  • anon

    So they setup Casino’s and CAB’s both of which cause serious financial harm to people, and in the case of CAB’s they commit usury, but we can’t dress up as one for one day? You libertards are all the same, you would protect a lion as it mauls you just so you don’t “feel bad”. The indians need to get over themselves, the government needs to seize back OUR land, and force them to live like the rest of us, under all the same laws and regulations.

    • gr0o

      Aren’t you a charming motherfucker…

      • anon

        We lent the land to them, if they choose to break our laws, we have the right to take it back.

        • Susan White

          If you’re the same anon, YOU didn’t lend the land to us. Your people took our land and pushed us onto land that most deemed untenable. Again it is NOT your land.

    • Susan White

      It’s NOT your land. We don’t all have casinos. I’m not even sure what a CAB is but if you mean one of the cash advance places, I know of none that are native owned here or on the reservations I’ve visited. If you mean the one mentioned on television, you’re an idiot. There are lots of non native cash advance places here. Many use them. I don’t. Most of us DO “live like the rest” of you. My family lives in a suburb, a couple hours from the reservation. We pay taxes. We also have a right to our heritage. You DON’T have a right to it, that includes wearing a replica of our clothing. Most of the time they’re really bad replicas too. The sexualized “native woman” costumes contribute to the idea that it’s ok to rape us because we want it. It’s not and we don’t. (I’m female). If you don’t like it, Mr. repugnant, then go back to the place your ancestors came from. THAT’S your land.

    • Sara S Lebensold

      I suggest you educate yourself on the history of your country, you are grossly misinformed. “Force them to live like the rest of us”, this statement is shameful and has already been attempted through various policies (more recently) in the 70s and 80s.

    • paulsimon

      Oh the “It’s our land we stole it from the Indians fair and square” approach. Read some history.

  • Jorgie

    I grew up In small town in Utah where maybe 5% of the people in my school were from one of the groups identified as Native American. They did not waste their time being offended by ‘Indian costumes’ because they did not identify with them. What offended them was when people threw the all in the same basket and actually thought that ‘Indian’ or ‘Native American’ described who they were. The terms are only offensive when used to pretend that they are all the same and should be treated differently. They are ‘Indians’ in the same way I am a ‘North American’. My family is predominantly Danish and Greek, but neither of those really have much to do with me beyond the physical traits I inherited from each. Greek and Danish culture had almost no effect on my life and the person I became. Sorry for the ramble.
    The point I wanted to make, if could have found the words is that “offensive” is a useless term. Many people think that offensive and immoral are the same thing, but they are not. Your ideals define what you find immoral, but you make the choice be offended. If you find Indian costumes immoral that is one thing, but to waste you time being offended is another. I would suggest that your direct your energy elsewhere and be offended by immoral behavior that is actually doing damage to people today. The Indian costume as described by you, may be a reminder for some of unforgivable acts in the past, but it has been generalized and rolled into our culture in such a way that I do not think it is actively damaging anyone today. I believe that the Goshute & Navajo that I knew is school would not even consider it as referring to them at this point.

    • Carey Grant

      The white privilege is strong in this one.

      • Jorgie

        Really, that’s how you add to the conversation, on the color of my skin? I guess we know who the bigot is in this thread.

    • Incognita Secunda

      See, here’s the thing: if a costume is a “reminder for some of unforgiveable acts in the past,” it is still doing damage in the here and now. Because it is reminding people of unforgivable acts–so that the person wearing the costume can have a good time by pretending to be somebody else. Can you honestly not understand how that is not a very nice thing to do? And no, people do not “choose” to be offended. What people do as a result of being offended is where the choosing comes into play. So what you are really pointing a finger at is not people just up and deciding, one day or every day, that they are going to be offended by stuff because, well, that’s a good time or something (it isn’t, actually, by the way), because that is not a real thing that actually happens. What you are pointing a finger at is people making you uncomfortable because they are telling you that stuff you thought was okay is actually hurtful to them.

  • Geandily

    Can people please please stop asking in the comments why the costumes are offensive and just read the fucking article before you take a dump in the discussion board?

    • Andre Moore

      I read it. Cultural appropriation is incorrect because. …because… and then it just peters off. Its the equivalent of saying eating westernised versions of Indian food (from India) is trashing their culture.

      • paulsimon

        Nonsense. Wearing a sari and talking in a ridiculous fake Indian accent for a laugh would be more equivalent, but no-one attempted genocide of South Asian people.
        You’re essentially saying “I wanna do what I want and I don’t care if people are offended.” That attitude comes with privilege.

  • DosDonvias

    I usually wear an Indian costume for Halloween but, I tell people I’m a “culturally insensitive, historically inaccurate visual representation of a Native American stereotype” Everybody wins.

  • Jody N

    I seriously think the racism card is getting a little ridiculous and
    over reaching. The number of things that some people consider racist
    these days seems to be growing all the time. Pretty soon…saying a
    black person is black is going to be considered racist. iDid native
    people not wear this type of clothing? What’s racist about dressing up
    as a Native person as they dressed in centuries past. You may be native…but your not native of centuries past.

    • Jody N

      To add to that…you’d better start ragging on Hollywood and Television
      networks because they use costumes all the time to emulate the Native
      dress of long ago

      • Susan White

        We still wear our traditional clothing for special occasions. To many of us, it’s not clothing from “centuries past” but clothing that is part of our people. In many families, certain patterns and colors have been handed down from generation to generation. We are not from “centuries past” but we have adapted just as others have. The people you speak of as centuries past though, do you even realize that those are our own family members? My grandparents were born in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. My actual grandparents. It’s not as long ago as you seem to think. Ad for Hollywood and television networks, there are many working on that too.

    • Guest

      Agreed, I can’t imagine the stress a person would be under to think everything is a racist barb denigrating their people, how would you ever choose your fights over it.

  • http://www.thenewwifestyle.com/ chelsea

    i really appreciate this and the tangible points what you get past “omg. they are really wearing this. omg. i need ALL the pumpkin cookies-stat.” interrupting racism is hard and uncomfortable but oh so necessary. thank you.

  • Andrew Payne

    You seem to downplay Native American blood and heritage in others who aren’t full blooded. Are only full blooded native Americans allowed to claim any heritage? That’s so racist.

    • Incognita Secunda

      “We’re all equally horrible” is not a good argument for refusing to admit that your actions hurt people. It’s not an excuse. And no, they are not “downplaying Native American blood and heritage in others who aren’t full blooded.” They are pointing out that there are plenty of folks who do not identify as in any way Native American until they say something insensitive about Native Americans, at which point they suddenly lay claim to that part of their heritage.

      • Andrew Payne

        But explain how Europeans taking land from native Americans is worse than the same thing happening intertribally.

        • Incognita Secunda

          See, here’s the thing: I’m not going to fall into the trap of ranking people for you. Nope. Not happening. And claiming that one group of people is horrible/has done horrible things does not shield someone from another group of people from the consequences of hurtful actions toward the first group of people. It just doesn’t work. At. All. You still did that thing that hurt someone else. It still sucks. I don’t care who did what first or to whom or what-the-hell-ever: you still should not have done it. This is the logic of toddlers that you’re asking me to use. I won’t do it.

          • Andrew Payne

            I didn’t say anything about ranking people in the comment there what are you talking about? Your whole response was a non sequitur

          • Andrew Payne

            Did you even read my reply? Nothing I said is anything about ranking anyone, or asking you to. You just made a total non sequitur response.

            • Incognita Secunda

              This is kind of hilarious. As I said in the response which you are now trying to avoid actually reading and considering, the first part of that comment is in reply to something which you posted and then immediately revised. It was not a non sequitur. I’m done.

          • Andrew Payne

            You aren’t taking into account that someone might be offended over something that they have no reason to be offended over, and just goes around looking for ways to be an asshole. And I have no doubt you have trouble being optimistic about anything with your extremely sensitive nature over inconsequential things like halloween costumes. I actually did read your comments, but found them to be mostly devoid of truth.

  • Andrew Payne

    He said it’s a children’s holiday not that children were wearing the costumes.

  • Andrew Payne

    How is a pimp costume racist!!!!! Are you implying pimps are only one color? That’s so racist I almost got nauseous.

    • paulsimon

      Obtuse.

  • Phillip

    what about the ones who enjoy being offensive? where does that leave them, and what has anyone on any side really accomplished? are they sociopathic? insensitive? terrible human beings? smited for all eternity?

    • Phillip

      a karmic slap in the face? In sanskirt, kárman, karma is not fate but the totality of one’s actions and resultant repercussions

  • Guest

    No he’s saying that hypocrites who claim to treat others equally often hate people of the race they claim to be oppressed by and vilify them because of their skin color, and are oblivious of their own racist behavior.

    • Incognita Secunda

      Nope. Sorry. That’s not what he said. He said that people should stop caring and talking about racism in order to make it go away, which makes no sense. Not that you are making any more sense, but you’re not summarizing what he said at all.

  • Andrew Payne

    I know right. That was so blatantly racist she just threw it in there and didn’t even notice it. I bet she edits it out later.

  • PJ Robertson

    Seriously? You are pathetic.

  • Hope Munro Smith

    What is your opinion on Mardi Gras Indians?

  • Brian Woods

    If you are offended by passive racism, then you are actively working to be offended. Educate people who dress out of ill intent. There is at least one person in the USA who dressed yesterday in regular clothes, but with a liquor bottle that he regularly drank from, that when asked, “What are you dressed as?” replied, “I’m an Indian, dude!”

    This is the person that I hope no one would disagree with you staging an intervention with. It is entirely reasonable for people to dress as historical figures for Halloween. Since Native Peoples are the foundation upon which the Western Hemisphere is built, it goes without saying that there are Native People of historical significance.

    I’ve covered the Gathering of Nations and Miss Indian World many times. I have been at New Year’s Eve sobriety pow wows. Each time I felt it a privilege to be invited into the presence of proud and hopeful Native People.

    I’d also encourage you to speak to people when you want to start a discourse on this issue. Email is not a medium for discourse. It is a way to tell someone something. Unless it’s information the recipient is waiting for, it is a very passive-aggressive medium to use to criticize someone’s state of dress and could be considered a form of harassment.

    If you want to use it as a teachable moment, invite them to a Native American event and use *that* as your introduction to why a costume might be considered culturally insensitive.

    Being culturally insensitive is COMPLETELY different from racism. With racism, there is malice or even ill intent. Cultural insensitivity is when someone makes a mistake they didn’t know they were making.

  • casbar

    I don’t see where I mentioned ignoring anything. I simply said don’t care so much. Hating an individual based on the color of their skin or ancestry is something that needs to be drained out of our culture. At this point I could wager that the majority of the internet is younger than I. We need to be farther along than this. Move past it. Stop acknowledging it.