A problematic question:

I dont really know where to start with this.. first off I’d like to say that I’m European and Native American, but the Native American blood in me is so small that I dont even know if anyone like yourself would say it mattered. Whether it matters to you (or anyone else) I take extreme pride in being even SLIGHTLY Native American. I love the culture, I love how they lived, and I love how beautiful they were both mind and body.. I guess I could be considered Anti-American because I don’t like America and I hate what theyve done in the past.

Still I understand that wasn’t your point in making this blog.

I just think its really.. rude and mean to complain about what people wear. Did you ever think that maybe the feathers and makeup and clothes are because they too find Native American culture beautiful? How could that ever be wrong? It shouldn’t be wrong for white skinned people or Americans to wear feathers and Native American stuff just because theyre not Indian. I wear feathers, I’ve made my own headdresses and it has nothing to do with trends. I just find them really beautiful and flattering. To me, saying that white people can’t wear Indian clothes is like saying women cant wear pants or African-Americans can’t wear “American” clothing just because they’re black.

However maybe that is not what you were getting at at all.. maybe you only meant to point out that using it was a trend and ONLY as a trend is wrong in which case I agree. Loving a culture shouldn’t be a trend and shouldn’t be abandoned once its no longer popular. Personally, I’ve always loved Native American culture and even when stupid scene-queens stop putting on the feathers, I always will.

This question was posed today to me by the “ask” function. I have copied it into a regular post format, but the asker in question is thepiratesheart.tumblr.com

I am extremely frustrated with this question, not because of the intent (that doesn’t count for much around these parts anyway) but because of the glaring inaccuracies, problematic language, and stereotypical assumptions made therein.

The items I take issue with are as follows:

  • Assuming one can be “slightly” native - it’s an identity, and no matter what blood quantum enthusiasts tell you, it’s not about blood. It’s a living breathing culture. Also the “anyone like yourself” assumption is glaringly rude.
  • Your assertion that you love “the” culture of being Native, - as if there is only one.
  • Your use of the past tense when describing how we live - Natives still exist. Our cultural practices are still employed. We’re not some figment of the past or your imagination.  What you know of us is likely flawed if this is the language you use to describe us.
  • Your assertion of what Americans have done in the past - in the context of Native Americans, the oppression is still ongoing. You do no one any justice by erasing our current struggles with this language.
  • I am neither rude, nor mean - nor am I “complaining.” I am as levelheaded and direct as one can be in the race & discrimination arena. Though my tone should never be taken as something you have the right to critique. I am allowed to be as angry as I like when defending the sanctity of native peoples.
  • If people truly found real Native culture beautiful, wouldn’t they do something to promote it instead of erase it? Last time I checked, one did not finger-paint over pornography as a tribute to the mona lisa. If you respect First Nations people and want to show it, come learn about us on a reservation, at a cultural center, instead of whitewash our heritage and continue to prop up a system that leaves us without clean drinking water, access to medical care and education..etc. etc. etc.
  • It’s fantastic that you find headdresses flattering (I’m glad you are able to make a traditional and spiritual garment that is sacred to the plains nations about your own vanity!!!). Unfortunately if you’re a woman, you’re thumbing your nose at our culture which explicitly disallows you to wear the headdress. Jingle dresses must not have the same face-framing flare. *If you’re a man, it’s still not appropriate to wear one, unless you’ve actually earned it, according to your tribe (no, you cannot pretend you’ve made a new tribe etc.)*
  • *Edit* Also your comparison of women, and Black people not wearing pants and “American” (which by the way, is a construct, as there is no real original “American” dress in the way which you are defining it) is not a great argument either - Men have never been oppressed and forced out of wearing their traditional clothing, nor has your version of “American” people ever done so. In fact, the parallels you draw bring to light how the ruling majority forces marginalize people to conform and abandon (nay stamp out!!) their traditional dress, lest they desire to be “othered” and submit to further ostracism.**
  • Even when the trend of “dressing like a savage” goes away,  people may still feel like dressing up as a Native on their own volition. This too, is still inherently a racist act. Regardless of how many other people are doing it, it is essentially an act of racism no matter how you spin it.

So to answer your question - which boils down to “why are you picking on all the non-natives who just want to look pretty?” - is that it’s just simply not their place to don the identity of another, regardless of blood quantum, intent, or trend.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 — 130 notes   ()
  1. floateron reblogged this from mycultureisnotatrend
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  7. witchyautisticweirdo reblogged this from mycultureisnotatrend and added:
    Beautifully worded. Figured this was relevant.
  8. ordream reblogged this from mycultureisnotatrend and added:
    HA! The person who asked the question enjoys indigenous cultures so much that he or she waters them down/whitewashes...
  9. spider-eyes reblogged this from mycultureisnotatrend and added:
    Beautifully said.
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  16. amillionparachutes reblogged this from custerdiedforyoursins and added:
    Amen. My favorite part was this: “Though my tone should never be taken as something you have the right to critique. I am...