I love Raja, but I am seriously tired of her appropriating Native culture. It’s not funny to me anymore as a Native American. I don’t care if she’s a drag queen and it’s supposed to be “funny”. It’s really starting to bother me and I’m tired of it. This regalia means things to cultures, spiritual things, and if she’s not trying to bring awareness to the struggle and the oppression of Native Peoples then it shouldn’t be happening. I don’t think it’s appropriate for one minority to trivialize the humanity of another, especially when I try so hard to be an aspiring ally for the LGBTQ community.
For some background information on this continuing issue:
But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress? http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-hipster-headdress.html
“Although we are a mostly invisible culture, that does not grant anyone the right to appropriate what little pieces of our past we have, robbing them of their dignity. Part of being seen as “trendy” also makes an entire culture not only a commodity, but also something that people will (and can) tire of; therefore being disposable. And to me, that is unacceptable.”
Headdresses promote stereotyping of Native cultures.
- “The image of a warbonnet and warpaint wearing Indian is one that has been created and perpetuated by Hollywood and only bears minimal resemblance to traditional regalia of Plains tribes. It furthers the stereotype that Native peoples are one monolithic culture, when in fact there are 500+ distinct tribes with their own cultures. It also places Native people in the historic past, as something that cannot exist in modern society. We don’t walk around in ceremonial attire everyday, but we still exist and are still Native.”
It’s just like wearing blackface.
- “Playing Indian” has a long history in the United States, all the way back to those original tea partiers in Boston, and in no way is it better than minstral shows or dressing up in blackface. You are pretending to be a race that you are not, and are drawing upon stereotypes to do so. Like my first point said, you’re collapsing distinct cultures, and in doing so, you’re asserting your power over them. Which leads me to the next issue.”
“There is a history of genocide and colonialism involved that continues today.
- By the sheer fact that you live in the United States you are benefiting from the history of genocide and continued colonialism of Native peoples. That land you’re standing on? Indian land. Taken illegally so your ancestor who came to the US could buy it and live off it, gaining valuable capital (both monetary and cultural) that passed down through the generations to you. Have I benefited as well, given I was raised in a white, suburban community? yes. absolutely. but by dismissing and minimizing the continued subordination and oppression of Natives in the US by donning your headdress, you are contributing to the culture of power that continues the cycle today.”
“But I don’t mean it in that way, I just think it’s cute!
- Well hopefully I’ve illuminated that there’s more at play here than just a “cute” fashion choice. Sorry for taking away your ignorance defense.”