This last week, I’ve come across several articles about regular people abusing Native Culture in various ways. From Adam Sandler’s Western Satire “The Ridiculous Six” to Coach’s Summer collection to Christian Louboutin’s “Tribaloubi” line, it seems the Fashion and Entertainment industries are cashing in on Tribal themes.
But what else is new? The presence of Indian Country, vast as it is, goes largely unacknowledged by the masses because the American Government spent decades brainwashing the citizenry into believing we are either extinct or just disappeared without a trace. It seems we only make headlines when there’s a link to Pop Culture, such as Robin Thicke’s cancellation of a performance at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.
Things are slowly changing, as we begin to have an established voice in publications like Native Max Magazine, and in walking away from “opportunities” which only further existing stereotypes and stigmas harmful to our spiritual health.
In the film and entertainment industry, Natives are grossly misrepresented as being almost nonexistent. And in the few roles that do present themselves, rarely are actual members of that People cast to play the role. Adam Sandler’s first mistake was hiring Navajo’s to portray Apache’s. Who better to represent the Apache’s than, well, an Apache?
1) They are not extinct
2) They have functioning civilized sovereign governments
Why does the have such a problem with Native’s representing themselves? Louboutin’s use of Hopi designs without consultation, input, research, or permission from the existing Hopi Nation tells the world that Christian Louboutin speaks for a Nation which is perfectly capable of representing itself. Except for the fact that “…the Hopi don’t have thousands of Instagram or Twitter followers, or hundreds of thousands visiting their shops in the way Louboutin does.”
The definition of Minority is Indian Country, consisting of 566 Federally Recognized Sovereign Nations and 64 State Recognized Tribes within the borders of the United States, we are still the smallest representation of the American population.
Basically, it boils down to this: If you wouldn’t wear a Swastika or Black Face, don’t wear a Headdress. If you wouldn’t tell a Jew to “stop being so sensitive” about the Holocaust, don’t say it to a Native. (That’s exactly how Sandler lost a dozen Native actors.)
Because guess what? Adolf Hitler’s inspiration for the Holocaust was the American Government’s Indian Removal Act, aka The Trail of Tears.
There is a difference between appreciation of indigenous cultures, and abusing it for profit. By taking that design you are stealing from an entire Nation.