START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

My Identity Is Not A Costume for You To Wear! :VIDEO


Society & Culture  (tags: American Indians, Native Americans, Halloween, Holidays, culture, society, ethics, humans, family, interesting, americans, children )

Kat
- 1282 days ago - youtube.com
Re: Halloween.... As a Native American, I am utterly appalled to see my culture lump[ed] together into some stereotypical Pan-Injun image, shipped and sold for the American masses to mimic my people and culture....



Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

Comments

kat yazzie (400)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 5:38 am
THESE ARE FROM SISTER ARTICLES. LINK INCLUDED:

http://whebrhotub.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-identity-is-not-costume-for-you-to.html

Dear Halloween Lovers,

Every year around this time, I see some idiot running down the street with an "Indian/Native American" costume (it gets worse during Thanksgiving). I have often wondered in this supposed "PC/Post Racial" country, why Americans insist on insulting the Indigenous Native American population by reducing them to mythical creatures of fantasy during Halloween?

I understand that to many Americans, Halloween is a time of blood-curdling fright, fantasy, and sugar candy coated fun! The purpose of the Halloween costume (according to Wikipedia):

"goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them..Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm"

Obviously, the pagan connections of Halloween are long forgotten, and today Americans wear costumes to not only scare, but "to portray the wearer as a character or type of character other than their regular persona at a social event..than would be socially unacceptable otherwise." So if you wish to dress up like mythical creature (Goblin, Spiderman, Unicorn (Heeyyy!), or larger than life celebrity or public figure (Glenn Beck, Paris Hilton, George Bush), than Halloween is your day to do so!

Now, what twists my trick-or-treat bag in a bunch, is where the heck Native Americans fit in all of this! Why is it socially acceptable to dress like the stereotypical Indian: "Brave","Chief", "Princess", "Squaw", "Maiden"? Pardon Moi, but when did the Native American enter the realm of Wizards, Fairies, Super-heroes, Goblins, or Ghouls? When did it become ok to reduce the diversity, language, and culture of nearly 500 different Indigenous tribes into a tacky "costume" of cheap suede, colored feathers, plastic beads, and fringe? Who decided that the history, identity, and lineage of Native Americans could be easily put on and taken off like greasy Halloween face paint? Who was the Native gal or guy, who gave the American people the "Okay" to do this? Who signed the treaty to allow such mockery to run a muck?

Any intelligent person knows that:




1.Native Americans are REAL people that don't live in Never Never Land, Fantastica, or some stupid Indian Cupboard. Need Proof? Well I am your proof! I live in Apartment in Arizona. Yep! I even wear shoes! Shocker!



2.The "Noble/Bloodthirsty Savage" stereotypical imagery is a myth.



3.There are many Native American tribes, which have their own distinct language, culture, and very importantly traditional attire (NOTE: I did not say costume). There are more than 500 Native American tribes in the US, and NONE of them traditional wear a skimpy faux suede fringey number with plastic neon beads, feathers, and a cheap geometric ribbon headband.
4.Also, the concept of Native American royalty (princess, kings, queens) is a complete bullocks! It was a European concept to simplify the complex social stratification of many Native American tribes. So will someone please yank Pocahontas off the Disney Princess list!? Thank you!



My point is that any intelligent individual knows that Natives (modern or historic) don't look, dress, (or act) anything like the stereotypical Indian get-ups at your local costume store or Wal-mart. Any perceptive person would either roll their eyes at the gross insult to Native American culture, or laugh at the tasteless, "hot mess" of a costume that supposedly passes as some generic Native American attire.

Yet, every year...every freaking Halloween (and Thanksgiving) I see "pale face" men and women prancing around in some stupid "Indian" costume, and behaving like some feral jungle book child; Beating their chest, doing the "Injun" war whoop, and spouting phases like: "How!", "Smoke-um-my-Peace-Pipe", and "What made the red man red?"

As a Native American, I am utterly appalled to see my culture lump together into some stereotypical Pan-Injun image, shipped and sold for the American masses to mimic my people and culture. I find it insulting my identity and heritage as a Native American, as a Navajo, is as easily acquired with few bucks, some nasty grease paint, and a loin cloth. That history of genocide and forced assimilation of Native Americans people in the US is not even an accessory to these supposed costumes! It's not important or even a consideration!!! What a privilege it must be to take the imagery of a people or culture without the social or historical baggage that goes along with it!

I hope you can understand my frustration; that the race and ethnicity of a group of people is not an acceptable Halloween costume!? No one in their right mind would dress up in black face to portray an African-American for Halloween! Hell no! Unless your blatantly racist, or damn ignorant about racial relations in the United States. I mean Michael Scott from the Office wouldn't do that, and that Mo-fo is the most ignorant White-American besides Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

So Damn it! LISTEN UP! Halloween Lovers! I'm taking a stand (no DWW jokes!), and I hope that this blog encourages many of you to say:"NO" to wearing Native American costumes for Halloween. I hope you encourage your friends who are thinking about it to also do the same (Hell, spread this blog around!). If I see anyone in some stupid Indian costume (this goes for you Natives as well who think its funny to dress up like this!) I am going to go PETA on your ass with a bucket of paint! BEWARE! This also applies to all REAL Natives and the phony Natives who claim Native lineage! It's not cool! There is nothing more pathetic than a Native wearing an Injun costume! By doing so, you insult our culture, ancestors, and history, and are nothing more than the token Injun for the American guilty conscience.

Great! So back away from the obviously racist "Native American Costume" this year, and go with something less offensive and less gaudy. If you are an intelligent person already, then spread the word against such Halloween offenses. Its not cool to dress up like a Native American, or a person of Asian, Mexican, African decent or any other ethnic group ever lived for that matter!

Your friends will thank you, I will thank you, and you will be saving yourself from the ridicule or snickering from intelligent individuals and/or REAL Native Americans that see your racist costume as an insult to a group of people that inhabited this country before Columbus was even born!


Thank you,

A REAL Navajo Native American

Halloween Hall of Shame!! Boooo!
 

kat yazzie (400)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 5:40 am
AND

http://newspaperrock.bluecorncomics.com/2009/10/indians-wizards-fairies-and-ghouls.htm


Indians, wizards, fairies, and ghouls

Blogger Brooke does a good job of deconstructing Halloween for Natives:

My Identity Is Not A Costume for You To Wear!
Now, what twists my trick-or-treat bag in a bunch, is where the heck Native Americans fit in all of this! Why is it socially acceptable to dress like the stereotypical Indian: "Brave," "Chief," "Princess," "Squaw," "Maiden"? Pardon Moi, but when did the Native American enter the realm of Wizards, Fairies, Super-heroes, Goblins, or Ghouls? When did it become ok to reduce the diversity, language, and culture of nearly 500 different Indigenous tribes into a tacky "costume" of cheap suede, colored feathers, plastic beads, and fringe? Who decided that the history, identity, and lineage of Native Americans could be easily put on and taken off like greasy Halloween face paint?
And:
As a Native American, I am utterly appalled to see my culture lump[ed] together into some stereotypical Pan-Injun image, shipped and sold for the American masses to mimic my people and culture. I find it insulting my identity and heritage as a Native American, as a Navajo, is as easily acquired with few bucks, some nasty grease paint, and a loin cloth. That history of genocide and forced assimilation of Native Americans people in the US is not even an accessory to these supposed costumes! It's not important or even a consideration!!! What a privilege it must be to take the imagery of a people or culture without the social or historical baggage that goes along with it!
Comment: When did Indians enter the realm of Neverland? There's actually an answer for this. It began around the end of the Indian Wars--the 1890s. Americans assumed that Indians were vanishing into the mists of time. They started romanticizing them--placing them in a mythic past where they roamed with the deer and the buffalo.

Because we'd vanquished them, we could stop tearing them down and start building them up. We could change them from "dirty redskins" into "noble savages." That way, we'd look great for defeating our impressive enemy. And they'd still exist in our memories, so we wouldn't have to think about all the massacres and corpses.

For more on this subject, see The Political Uses of Stereotyping.

Back to Halloween. Go to the original posting to see examples of pseudo-Indian costumes. Alas, there seems to be an endless supply of these stereotypical outfits.

 

Patricia Cannell (756)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 5:48 am
Noted Kat. I think it is sad that of all the things to choose to be on Halloween that one would choose an enthnic group. Isn't this a form of racism??
 

Henry P. (173)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 5:55 am
Noted Dear Kat Thank You.
 

Just Carole (341)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 5:56 am

THANK YOU, Kat!
 

chris b. (2484)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 6:03 am
Strange how the very people who may have oppressed indigenous people want to mimic them! One wonders whether it is some sort of perverse admiration or a continuation of old contempt! Even more bizarre is the source of much of this Halloween paraphernalia, China! No doubt they would object if one wanted to dress up in some stereotypical Chinese and mocking Chinese outfit!
 

Larry Kibby (13)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 6:07 am
Noted and thank you
 

Dianne Lynn Eakin (710)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 6:18 am
excellent point,thanx
 

Dandelion G. (401)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 6:40 am
Thank you for putting this on. Education is the only way this type of insulting behavior will stop. I'm glad to see a group going around to the schools. Our schools in fact need to do a better job to educate the young so these insulting ways do not continue. The schools are not doing so, however, mostly due to the fact that the Administrators are ignorant as well.
 

Debbie Johnson (118)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 6:53 am
Truly can run from a subtle to blatant form of racism, can't it...? Cheesy, tacky "interpretations", as well. Downright, outright disrespectful...Great article as always, Kat. Thanks.
 

Abdessalam Diab (150)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 7:07 am
Sad.Noted. Thanks Kat
 

Jae A. (321)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 8:18 am
Thank you Kat. Many great points made in that article.
 

Jeannette A. (146)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 8:27 am
Noted. Please remember that Halloween is an equal holiday insult for so many peoples including Muslims, Buddhists, Mexicans, Greeks, etc. If we look at it that the costume equals insult, I have seen hundreds of peoples insulted over the years. The truth is that the holiday is used as an attempt to dress up and be something, for a night, that you are not. Growing up in Oklahoma and Texas, dressing like an Native American for Halloween was common. Because of it, many of us took an interest in the culture, researched our roots (even the non-Natives), learned to make beaded moccasins, learned stories of respect and nurture for our land. With us as children, there was no disrespect, just an opportunity to learn.
 

ChanTlalok C. (372)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 9:57 am
thanx Kat, I agree with Jae, Jeanetta and you to a degree. Ahoo, God Bless.
 

Cher C. (1462)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 10:25 am


Thnx sweetie!!


 

Alicia v. (181)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 11:14 am
I agree 100%. Thanks for the article.
 

OutofTown M. (444)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 11:25 am
KAT, thank you so much for this video...gave me chills watching it!!!!

In total agreement with you Kat!!! When I was little I played cowboys and indians and just found my little peace peace pipe (sorry away from your special news). That peace pipe did NADAD for our Special Native Americans!!! In my opinion, they should all have houses like Bill Gates!
 

Donn M. (56)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 1:08 pm
I agree, Jeanette.

There is no racism involved in choosing to costume oneself as a Native American. More likely a choice made because of a fascination with the old romanticised and idealized visions of the past. Some actions that might accompany dressing this way could be viewed as insensitive, but, face it, you don't have a right not to be offended. Dressing as anyone or anything can be either respectful or disrespectful, so I disagree with blanket condemnation. It's almost Halloween, so pretty soon we'll have to put up with the blather that dressing as an ugly old witch is disrespectful to modern would-be witches.
 

Crystal T. (20)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 1:51 pm
Interesting article. I appreciate Native American culture, always have, even though I'm not Native American. I have many Native American items adorning my house. I buy jewelry and pottery and even some clothes when I can afford things from Native American vendors, many at powwows (and I usually ask to make sure I'm supporting Native American enterprises), even more today as I'm committed to buying 'made in USA' as much as possible. I support Native American causes as much as I can and hear about.

And yes, I've dressed up as an Indian on Halloween, not buying from Walmart, but using the many beautiful items I own. Never meant it as any disrespect or as dressing up as a harmful spirit. Any more than I mean disrespect to the Japanese when I wear the beautiful real silk komono I was given by a friend to Halloween parties. However, your articles here, do give me pause and will make me think.
 

greenplanet e. (157)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 2:19 pm
so true
 

Rhonda Maness (602)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 2:33 pm
Thanks Kat
 

Allan Yorkowitz (460)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 2:41 pm
Excellent point. Thank you
 

Vukan Simic (121)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 2:42 pm
Thanks Kat.
 

Valerie H. (136)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 2:57 pm
Thank you Kat - noted...interesting points!
 

ewoud k. (73)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 3:05 pm
Kat, you're absolutely right.
Haloween's got to do with disguising, but as fairys, ghosts, pumpkins, fantasy and other imaginary, but frankly, where do the natives fit in? They're no fantasy, but rather real (even if there are a lot out there who wouldn't mind if they (you included) would be just fantasy), are not scary, no reason to dress up as a native.
 

offline away busy sorry (63)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 3:15 pm
noted thanks
 

Charlie L. (47)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 5:11 pm
Noted, and thank you Kat for an excellent post with a very needed hard-hitting message. I just hope the message is received by those who most need to be exposed to it. As Dandelion said, the schools need to get more involved and make young people understand that such ignorance and racism is unacceptable. And if the administrators are that ignorant maybe more needs to be done to educate the educators.
 

Bruce Eyster (20)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 8:25 pm
Beautiful post ; Thank You !
 

jane richmond (10)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 10:19 pm
Thank you fro an excellent post. Costumes should be for fun not to hurt or caricature others.
 

Penelope R. (172)
Thursday October 14, 2010, 10:49 pm
Thanks for the article Kat, I understand your feelings on this issue, but as an admirer of original/first nations culture I know when I was 5 years old it was a thrill for me to draw feathers with crayons and wear them. My Dad called me his indian princess. I have always loved the culture , art languges, and studied arthropology. My favorite culture was first nations. As an 3rd generation Irish, I understand resentment as the Brits took the land from the native Irish, heard all about from my grandpa. Their are many similarites with first nation people and the Irish, including Celtic culture. I guess what I am saying is maybe to some it is honoring the culture. Just my way of thinking. Loved the Apache dancing....Love Pow wow, I used to go a lot as I was engaged to an wonderful man from the White Mt. Nation.
 

Christina G. (41)
Friday October 15, 2010, 12:23 am
Absolutely agree, Kat. And our supposedly enlightened generation should be teaching our children much more respect. It's not "fun" if it is at the expense of another.
Anyway, here's a nice description of what Halloween (All Hallows Eve) or Samhain is supposed to be
(By Patti Wigington)
"On this night, the veil between this world and the next grows thin. The spirits of those who came before us are near, and they hear us when we call upon them. All part of the endless cycle, life and death walk hand in hand, side by side. Without one, we cannot have the other. As light begins to fade, we embrace the dark part of the year, knowing that without the darkness, the light is meaningless. Take time to reflect on what this new year means to you, and what it meant to those we call the Ancient Ones. May your ancestors look upon you proudly as you honor them tonight."
 

Ancil S. (175)
Friday October 15, 2010, 12:33 am
I agree with you Kat,I've always know about native American clothing.I refuse to wear this as "costume" and would not advocate it. I have a smidgen of Choctaw in me and I am somewhat enlightened about my heritage as well.We do need to educate the public about our culture and the use of clothing in our culture.
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (264)
Friday October 15, 2010, 12:50 am
Thanks Kat
 

Tonya P. (6)
Friday October 15, 2010, 4:27 am
Thank you Kat :) I adamently oppose useing cultures as a costume. As a Pagan Gaianist (commonly called Green witches in pagan circles) I try and fail miserably to not get offended by all the warty little green faced witches or the mechanical whiches who say "come here little girl i am hungry!" Not the same thing I know but it does give me a greater scope of understanding I think.
 

barbara n. (10)
Friday October 15, 2010, 4:49 am
I know how the author feels, because I felt exactly the same the first time I saw a celebration of Halloween in my country, whwre it did not exist and has no links with our society, present and past, or our religious celebrations. But the worst is that, in western rich countries, no other celebration have links with anything, and is becoming someway offensive to somebody, because the only reason and link with all of them, including Chrismas and Easter is money and sales.
 

. (0)
Friday October 15, 2010, 5:46 am
I've seen children (and adults) dressed up for Halloween wearing costumes which come from many different cultures. Indian saris, Japanese kimonos, medieval European garb, Early American clothing, ancient Egyptian clothing, Roman togas, and just about everything else. As well as men dressed as women, women dressed as men, atheists dressed as nuns, and a great deal more. They're merely costumes which, for a few hours, change the outward identity of the wearer for fun.

We don't have a patent on our cultural expressions.
 

KrassiAWAY B. (175)
Friday October 15, 2010, 12:28 pm
Noted...interesting points! In Bulgaria we don't celebrate Halloween.
 

ivona P. (145)
Saturday October 16, 2010, 9:20 am
Thank you Kat.
 

Deborah B. (69)
Sunday October 17, 2010, 3:21 pm
Thanks, Kat. Yikes! Our President looks so African-American and he is half-Caucasian. I guess that this 'pale face' had better deny the part of her that you so rightfully champion. I am glad that you mentioned that there are 500 tribes/nations (in Canada they say 'bands'). I find that unfortunately, the standard image of what looks 'Native American' to most white people is the Plains and Southwest type .I have also seen my share of 'really- looks -Indian -my -gosh- he's - a -real -Cheyenne- Fancy- Dancer -all aflutter with the day glo ribbons and mirrored bustles spinning around. I have seen quite a few Native Americans self-stereotype as you describe. I will not deny the part of me that my mother taught (and no, I don't look like her - turned out like the 'white Daddy'. I was talking to someone who went to a big gathering at Tunica-Biloxi a number of years ago who said how 'freaked out' she was when she saw a 'New Age Witch' in attire that included a hat with a high steeple (didn't mention any quillwork). I explained to her that was M'Kmaq. So if you aren't 'Cheyenne, Objibwe, Cherokee, Lakota Sioux, Dine REAL Native Americans' around here and don't look like your mother and weren't born where she came from , then you don't count. I knew someone who was 1/32 Osage who had never been around anything Native American in her life and yet somehow she had a card that she carried around. That quantum blood thing can break your heart at times depending on what you are or the words you heard as a child. I understand your feelings. I wish that we could spread our wings and learn about some of the other tribes. How about Seminole or Miami? I grew up on an old Pottowatami trail. Around these parts, it's awful lonesome in my spirit. So since this is Southside Chicago where it's great to be Irish, I guess I fit in at those parades that I really don't identify with at all despite the pale face and green eyes because I look the part. There are so many stereotypes that I find offensive. It's whatever hits home that angers us so. I understand your feelings very well and thank you for sharing them with everyone to contemplate. Last night on television there was a documentary all about 'minstrel shows' and how white people wore black face and sang music that evolved from the slaves because African-Americans were not allowed to be present during the entertainment as in segregation. And as far as Halloween goes in general, I am surprised at all the Christians who participate in it.
 

AniMae Chi (361)
Sunday October 24, 2010, 8:42 pm
Honoured to watch this vid...
Than.q
 

Charmaine C. (171)
Thursday November 4, 2010, 8:33 am
I know many modern Christians who are not bothered by the once yearly parade of costumes, squeeling kids and gobs of candy, nor should they be. This evening of fun is not practiced with malice and aforethought by young children, who harbour none of the 'isms' in their little hearts, and I doubt the parents have their minds on anything other than the wellbeing of their offspring. Peace.
 

Brooke W. (0)
Monday November 8, 2010, 9:03 pm
OMG! Thanks Kat for posting my blog on this wonderful site! I am glad it is bring awareness to this issue of racist Halloween Costume! Ahee hee! (thank you in Navajo)
 
Or, log in with your
Facebook account:
Please add your comment: (plain text only please. Allowable HTML: <a>)

Track Comments: Notify me with a personal message when other people comment on this story


Loading Noted By...Please Wait

 

 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.