Cultural Misappropriation

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.


My Life After College

Well, I’m still looking for work. Surprise surprise. I’m taking on a lot of personal projects to learn my way around new software and to beef up my portfolio.

I’m currently in Las Vegas this week with my mother, she has a Human Resources conference. It’s my first time out here without my grandmother. So how have I been spending my alone time in Sin City? Well, Shopping at Planet Hollywood, Spa Day at Bally’s, dinner in Paris, hair color at Color by Michael Boychuck in Caesars Palace, makeover in Chanel at Bellagio, and tonight dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s new restaurant in Paris followed by Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere. Okay, so I’m with mom for some of that but…tomorrow we’re going out to the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon owned and operated by the Hualapai Nation. I will be taking several photos.

And when I get back on Friday? I will cry and hug my yorkie and mourn the loss of Jasper, a collie/shepherd pound puppy I’ve had since I was 7 who passed away in his sleep at the age of 13 yesterday. I’ve broken down three times today, because our pets are family in every capacity, and he waited until I was out of town to let himself go. I knew it was coming, but I thought I had one more year with him. Just like that, another link to my grandfather and my childhood is gone.

I am still studying for the GRE which I take sometime in July. Brushing up on the math section mostly. I’m looking at Coastal Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte for either a journalism or creative writing masters. If I can’t get hired, may as well go back to school.

As for Wind Song, Stefani is taking the summer off, interning in Franklin, NC, and looking for a new co-host. I hope to be involved in the process for the life of the show.


Wind Song’s Last Topic

Stefani and I talked about the importance of caretaking in almost every aspect of our modern lives. Native traditions across the country find it important to care for the environment, the animals, yourself, your village, and your family. So we challenged you, the listener, to do something to better someone’s life in some way.

What I’ve Done

I started my internship with clearchannel radio this week. I’m not sure what I expected, but organizing freebies from previous remotes was not it. Neither, really, was adding concerts to the site calendars. But I did it, and it actually did make a difference to the actually employed. Staying organized and reaching the audience was important.

Why does it Matter?

If we expect people to help us, we have to help others. Volunteering, interning, talking, listening. Being there. It makes a massive difference to the lives we interact with. So I once again charge you to do what you can to better a life.


Wind Song Talk Show is my project.

Wind Song episodes will be appearing here very soon. The show started in October 2011 and is still going strong. We discuss Native American (read indigenous) cultures and how they interact with the modern American culture. Issues such as politics, sovereignty, worldviews, and traditions. Basically, it’s two best friends discussing anything and everything Native.

It is our hope that we can educate and inform the masses that 1) Native groups still exist 2) not every Native culture is the same and 3) clear up the common misconceptions about and forced up on all Native Americans as a singular minority.

The radio show is hosted at Western Carolina University’s radio station WWCU-FM Power 90.5 (read ninety dot five). In the Mountains region of North Carolina, tune in to FM station 90.5.