On wearing us as costumes.

So, on the topic of ‘ethnic costumes for Halloween’.  A certain poster campaign and the spin off posters mocking the message have once more got people discussing whether or not this practice is racist.

That you don’t understand why I am offended and upset when you dress up as Pocahontas or some ‘Indian warrior’ doesn’t mean it’s just ‘my problem’. The stupid stereotypes both visual and non-visual about native people in this country are seriously scary. The poisoned political discourse, the active and systemic racism and the ongoing attack on WHO WE ARE AS PEOPLES is so horrific and unfortunately well hidden or justified by those who perpetrate and support it, that you cannot claim to be taking a neutral stance when you ‘ape’ us.

I am really sick of hearing about how it’s just innocent fun. It isn’t. It is part of a wider and staggering ignorance about us that is deliberately fostered in Canada’s political, social and education system in order to continue to oppress and assimilate us. Oh sorry, you didn’t know that? Well I just told you. Your ignorance of these facts is meaningless. That you ‘didn’t mean it in a bad way’ is meaningless. Your actions, however, are anything but meaningless.

Just my two pîwâpiskosak.  It’s not like I think people will stop doing it.

Another place to read more thoughts on the subject is the Native Appropriations Blog.

Follow up:

A friend linked to this blog post on Facebook, and the typical conversation started up once more about how people should ‘lighten up’ and ‘not choose to be offended’ and how it’s not racist to dress up in a caricature of someone from another culture, it actually honours that culture and some people from that culture thought it was soooo cute, blah blah blah…

My youngest daughter came home from school yesterday and told me that a girl in her group was “dressed like an Indian”.  The girl kept ‘war whooping’ in my daughter’s face, and my daughter said she was too scared to ask her to stop.  (This is not the only day of the year, by the way, that other kids think it’s hilarious to war whoop and make tomahawking motions around my daughters and other native children.  Just like it’s not just on Halloween that some children pull at the skin around their eyes and adopt a ridiculous accent in front of the Chinese and Japanese students.)

Someone needs to tell this other little girl that what she was doing, was not okay and why, but should it have to be my seven-year old daughter? I doubt the girl’s parents can be relied upon to understand the issue and say anything to her, given that they allowed her to wear the costume in the first place.  It certainly won’t be any of the privileged people all over the country who angrily defend their ‘right’ to wear racist outfits while blaming those of us who are directly impacted of actually causing racism by bringing it up.

But hey, it’s all in fun and after all, my daughter just needs to learn how to not get offended, problem solved, right?

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Categories: Culture, Injustice, Pan-Indian, Representation of natives

29 Responses to On wearing us as costumes.


  1. Bruce says:

    Well said ! Ayhay.

  2. Emo says:

    There’s (1) the problem itself and then (2) articulating the problem to people who don’t already understand it.

    Pretty much the only discourse that exists on this issue consists of “preaching to the converted” (and while that’s preferable to silence, it won’t have any effect on (e.g.) Ontario summer camps that still (literally) have rich white kids dress up as 1920 movie-set “Indians”, with face-paint and feathers, and dance around a campfire, etc. –something that several different white people have reported to me as an ongoing phenomenon, but that I’ve never seen myself).

    I think it is really easy to over-estimate the effectiveness of (e.g.) documentary films made by APTN on this subject, that will exclusively be watched by people who both understand and agree with the premise ( http://aptn.ca/pages/news/2010/11/01/cultural-identity-theft-part-1/ ).

    I also think it’s misleading to pretend that the cultural status of the Qí Páo [旗袍] is morally equivalent to “dressing up like an Indian” (in the scenario alluded to above, and discussed in that APTN film, etc.). The Qí Páo really is a 20th century fashion, and if you’re a white woman who is living and working in China, it is not inappropriate to attend formal occasions in a Qí Páo (and, yes, there’s an industry to cater to this niche market, http://www.shanghaitang.com/en/products/30/w-dresses.html ). In related news, Chinese is not an endangered language, and while the history of European Colonialism in China was “eventful” to say the least, it did not verge onto genocide as the British Empire did in so many other parts of the world (Canada and Australia being especially deplorable examples). The fact that there is no occasion on which a white woman would wear a formal “Indian” dress to attend a formal event that is majority “Indian” (nor dress as an Australian aborigine amongst Australian aborigines, etc.) has a sort of correlation to how wildly inappropriate the costumes are in the context of halloween.

    In terms of what is a big deal, I do think that Ontario summer camps having faux “Indian rituals” is a big deal –and it is an especially ugly aspect of the endgame to cultural genocide. However, if it is okay to wear a Qí Páo to a cocktail party in Hong Kong (where 99% of the guests are Chinese) then I do think it is okay to wear a Qí Páo in the context of dressing up as a recognizable Chinese character at Halloween party (it wouldn’t offend anyone in Hong Kong) –and the situation of Chinese culture (in Canada) is simply not comparable to the situation of First Nations’ cultures for a set of reasons too long to enumerate. Remember when the Potlatch was illegal? It was 1884–1951. That’s one of the many reasons I’m not getting into enumerating.

    Similarly, I’d point out that the resurgence of interest in Ancient Greece and Rome (as themes for movies I’ve avoided seeing) has entailed a set of “culturally sensitive” costumes from that part of the world… but the fact of the matter is that the British Empire merely looted a few graves in Greece, without turning the entire country into the graveyard of its indigenous civilization. Comparisons are odious, but it ain’t the same and it’s never going to be the same. Dressing up like an Indian isn’t okay, and, looking around in 2011, I’d say that it’s never going to be okay.

    Seriously: how far would you have to walk to buy groceries by speaking in any indigenous language?

    From where you’re now sitting, how far would you have to walk to buy groceries speaking Chinese? How far would you need to go to speak Korean?

    In any major city in Canada (and in most of the minor ones, too!), the answer is that you’re over 100 kilometers away from a grocery store where the shop-keeper has fluency in Cree –or in any indigenous language –and where the shop-keeper can actually conduct a transaction with you in Cree (think through the vocabulary here, “How much does this cost per kilo? … and here’s your change…”). Conversely, you’re probably a ten minute walk from a store where Chinese or Korean is spoken.

    That’s the meaning of an endangered language: in the heart of the Cree homeland, you can’t buy groceries in Cree, let alone pay your electricity bill or talk to a medical doctor in the language. What the demeaning dress-up games indicate is that white people (or the vast majority of them) do not realize that this cultural genocide is their tragedy, too; it’s a stain that marks us all, and it’s a stain that never washes away. America will never be “New England”; South America will never be “New Spain”; this will always be a land defined by an act of conquest that had genocide for its objective. A series of European empires that envisioned no role for the native population except that they should convert, conform, and then cease to exist –or, whenever the first two proved inconvenient, skip straight to the ceasing to exist part.

    • Emo says:

      As you can see, I messed up the bold text function on that one…

    • Trying to accomplish point 2 often means acquainting people with ways of thinking that are totally new to them, and quite threatening. Most of the dialogue I see that attempts to do it ends up in a bunch of offended ‘defenders of freedom’ shouting down the people who feel denigrated by the costumes in question.

      • Emo says:

        My prior comment appeared before you added your “Follow up” (thus, it neither mentions nor respond to the anecdote about your daughter in the classroom).

        As with many evils (great and small) this is one that is different when it transpires betwixt consenting adults… and it is really much worse in the context of children under institutional authority… be it in a school context, or the aforementioned elite summer-camps of Southern Ontario.

        In terms of consenting adults, I’d add a boring addendum…

        While there are occasions where it’s acceptable for a white woman to wear a Qí Páo [旗袍] in China (hey, at the right cocktail party, it would even be approved of…) it’s never acceptable for them to actually wear “eye makeup” that’s meant to imitate Chinese ethnic characteristics. I’m pretty sure that white women in Africa get a positive reaction for wearing an wear an Africa-print dress under the right circumstances (this has political implications, I’ve told)… but they’d get an extremely negative reaction for actually showing up in black-face. Some of these guidelines can be “universalized” about… but, yeah, the (unique) reality of the endangerment of F.N. in Canada means that there’s no circumstance (or none known to me?) wherein white people would be encouraged (by F.N.) to imitate traditional regalia. Although I’ve made some remarks above to make sense of it, the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t need to make sense –like any other cultural prohibition.

        One culture requires you to take your hat off at a cemetery, and another requires you to put your hat on. It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t have to, and we don’t have to make sense out of it.

        But, yeah, the first point is the same as the last point on this one: articulating the problem to people who don’t already understand it (and who don’t already agree with you) is a whole different challenge… and you may soon be trying to do this with your daughter’s teacher or school administration.

        • When I was walking around last night, admiring the many inventive, scary, and wonderful costumes I discussed this issue with my partner. I do not think it is offensive, for example, to wear a beaded jacket and moccasins. After all, these things are beautiful. Wearing a kimono or a pakistani dress is not offensive either if you do not, as you mentioned, start adding exaggerated ‘racial’ characteristics.

          I think that for me, the line is drawn when something is restricted in a certain culture. For example, eagle feathers have a certain significance in many native cultures. To put on something that looks like an eagle feather in a ‘costume’ makes light of what a person has to do in our cultures to earn one. It is absolutely acceptable to wear a head covering if you attend a Jewish event that requires this, but it seems obviously wrong to wear a hat with ‘locks’. Tossing on a badly wrapped turban and a fake beard in order to look Sikh is in incredibly bad taste. For one, every Sikh man I’ve ever seen puts a lot of effort into the neatness of their appearance, so the whole sloppy copy thing just gets my goat. But a fake kirpan and bracelets…does the person sporting this ‘costume’ even understand the significance of these items?

          I think that if someone is genuinely interested in a particular culture, the bare minimum they can do is learn about it. It does not take much investigation to learn what items and clothing are ‘restricted’ within that culture and which are not. The restricted items tend to be more offensive when worn as ‘costume’ in my opinion.

  3. Bob says:

    Are we to believe that before the Europeans came to this country that every tribe lived in perfect harmony with one another and no tribe ever drove another tribe away with no thought of whether they would live or die? That is a fantasy. Does that excuse how the Natives were treated, absolutely not. However, it is not just Europeans who fight for territory and commit acts of brutality. I am white, and as far as I know, my family never hurt a Native in any way, yet many of those who are native are predujiced against me and lump me together with some unknown white culture. It is just as wrong to do that as to lump all tribes together. Also, for the owner of this web site, arten’t you of mixed blood? That means you are just as much an ancestor of these Europeans who brutalized the tribes as you are of the tribes themself. So are your ancestors not also responsible for what is being done in Canada? If I am to blame for what has been done by some ancestor that I never met, are you not also, because of your blood lines?

    • Your argument seems to be this:

      1) Natives also engaged in violence against one another.
      2) That does not excuse what was done by Europeans to native people.
      3) My family never hurt native people.
      4) Some natives are prejudiced against me and lump me in as ‘white’.
      5) You are mixed blood, so you are to blame too if I am to blame.

      Alright, I think that sums it up fairly?

      Now, what was the point of any of this? You are responding to a post about wearing ‘ethnic costumes’ and how that can be incredibly racist and offensive. I get extremely tired of having this confused fountain of anger unleashed upon me in response to a very specific complaint. Should I spend my time going through each of your points, discussing them in detail and explaining where my opinions differ from yours, and hey here are the academic footnotes if you don’t want to take my word for it?

      Or should I instead expect that instead of just pouring out all of the things you are upset about, and how you supposedly feel you are under attack, you would address the specific issue? That’s the approach that frankly, I am going to go with. I do not think it is fair of you to demand I solve all of the problems or even address them before you are willing to talk about whether or not it’s okay to dress up like an Indian and war whoop in our faces.

  4. Bob says:

    Should I be upset if someone wore a viking outfit and war-whooped in my face? My point is that there are many unfair things in the world, and there will continue to be. So we as individuals have to do our best not to be the perpetrators of those things that are unfair. I have been stared at, and ignored and ostracised by Natives at different times. I have been treated as if my name was Custer, when I would be the first to denounce him as a fool. Was it fair for me to be treated that way?, probably not, is it going to change? probably not. Some cultures, unfortuanately, have certain stereotypes. Are all Irish people drunks? no, Are all Germans, Nazis?, no, Are all Italian people Mafia?, no. Are all Middle Eastern people terrorists? no. But are people going to change how they view these different peoples, no. I don’t disagree with what you are saying, but I don’t think that people are going to change their views unless they learn differently. Most of these things are done out of ignorance and much of it is innocent ignorance. My kids have been made fun of for being white by native kids. Was it hurtful? yes, Was it wrong? yes. Was there anything that I could do? no. I just have to teach my children to disregard ignorance. By the way, I am not upset, i am just making some observations. Just because my views may be different than yours, or may challenge your viewpoint, doesn’t mean that I am upset. I respect Native people and live in a community where I am a minority. I consider many of them my friends and even as family. As am matter of fact, where I live, I don’t have any white friends, nor am I close to any of the white famileis here. But I think sometimes there is an unrealistic idea of what life was like before the Europeans came and ruined everything. Humans, after all, have always been, well, human. That means that there was always evil things, mistreatment, prejudice, stealing of land, along with sickness, disease, poverty and death, before the Europeans came. Does it excuse their crimes? of course not. But I believe that today, there is great prejudice from both sides. What is done is done. Would it be fair to ask me to move to Europe? I am no more European than I am Native American. Would it be fair to ask the Native’s to go back to living the way they did before Europeans came? No, and most would not really choose to live that way if they had to for a few days. Many of my friends don’t eat deer meat and don’t like to ride on horses:) Life is complicated, as you know. I feel bad for your kids having to endure those things. Kids are cruel and unfortunately they sometimes have parents who are also ignorant. I am not attacking you or against you. I would be the first to stand up and defend native people in the face of ignorance and have done so in the past. I think it is time that we start judging people on how they act individually, instead of lumping them together with the behavour of some who share the same culture.

    • *sigh*

      I am sorry you have experienced racism. That in no way invalidates what I have said about it being offensive to dress up like Pocahontas or an “Indian Warrior”.

      Your approach to stereotypes is fatalist, as though we have no power to avoid perpetrating them. If I were to take this approach, I would merely accept that people are going to continue to ‘jokingly’ call my children savages, and Tontos (which means idiot in Spanish btw, a language we also speak), while they war-whoop, pull at their eyes and in other ways denigrate us and our culture. Sorry, but I’m not a fatalist. I operate under the shocking view that we absolutely have the ability to socialise that kind of behaviour out of our children and ourselves.

      Just like we have to have conversations with our children about why it’s not okay to loudly point out ‘how short’, ‘how fat’, ‘how bald’ and ‘how brown skinned’ someone is, we adults do not need to engage in a wild list of complaints and accusations before settling down and going, ‘yeah you know that is kind of rude and it’s a good thing to try not to do it’.

      Your post once against jumps so far all over the place that I really don’t feel there is much there to latch on to in order to keep us on topic. I am not going to address your claims when you have made very little effort to engage the subject matter. I have made my criticism very, very specific. People who wear caricatures of ethnic costumes thinking it’s super funny to play into ugly stereotypes, are engaging in behaviour that is hurtful, offensive and unacceptable. Nothing you have said changes that fact.

      As for whether you should feel offended if someone wears a Viking costume, well are you a Viking, Bob?

  5. Bob says:

    Okay back on the subject. How did you teach your children to view the white children who made fun of them? Did you tell your kids about the horrible white people that came here and ruined everything? How are you training your children to view your white neighbors? It is not one-sided. I had a much longer post about the desperate conditions among First Native people today, not by statistics but by reality of personal one on one experience, and involvement with the families where I live. Out of respect, I will not go into detail of the reality of their lives because I don’t want to be hurtful. But let me just say, that First Natives have far more to worry about than what outsiders say about them. Many of the stereotypes are being perpetuated by the people themselves. One prominent Native man, in a newspaper aritcle, was talking to his own people about their behaviour and how he was ashamed at the things that had become common-place among them and how he said that it seemed as if his people were headed for destruction. There are greater things at stake than what some ignorant outsiders might think when the future of your people is in jeopardy. The victim mentality is not healthy and will not solve any of their greatest problems.
    Maybe you think my view of people is simplistic, but I don’t believe in races. I believe that all men are of one blood. There are of course, different cultures and ethnicities and nations. I don’t believe that Natives are any more noble or any less noble than any other tribes or peoples on the earth. I believe that all men are created equally and viewed that way by God. All men do not treat each other equally however. I believe that we have to change the next generations by how we teach our children. When my children are mistreated, I just tell them that the people here have been hurt deeply and carry a lot of bitterness and that they need to understand that many of the children grow up in hard circumstances. I just hope that you are teaching your children that not all white people are invaders bent on the destruction of your people. Whenever I experience the other end of racism, I just try and remind myself of what many of the people here face and have faced, and I try not to take it personally. When they get to know me and my heart, most accept me as a friend.
    By the way, these things I have never shared with any of my friends on the Reserve as their friendship and trust, to me is more important than having some of my questions answered or arguing my point of view.

    • Bob, the girl who dressed up like that was of Haitian origin.

      Kids pick up on anything and everything to tease one another. I teach my kids to be clear about why something bothers them, because this helps them not just react in anger to insults, but rather be clear in their own minds about what is unacceptable in the other person’s behaviour. In this way, they can’t avoid knowing when they are themselves engaged in unacceptable behaviour, because no one is perfect.

      I’d like you to stop tossing around the term ‘white’ actually. I have used that term exactly three times in my blog. Once when I was introducing Cree verbs for the word ‘white’. Once when I described being called a ‘white bitch’. Once when I quoted a Mohawk woman from a book I was reading. That is it. “White” is a term I specifically avoid using because it is about as useful as the proverbial tits on a bull.

      Of course I have had to teach my kids that no matter how reasonably they themselves behave, others will do things that make no sense, or are just plain stupid and hateful. But I have also taught my kids to stick up for themselves and others, and they do an admirable job of it. That is what I am doing here. I am sticking up for myself, and for them. I have had this conversation enough times to have the good fortune to see some people change their ways when they realised what they were doing was hurtful. That alone makes the dialogue a worthwhile exercise.

      Again, I’m not going into the rest of what you’ve said here. There is simply too much to unpack.

  6. Bob says:

    I am just using the term white because, “This is how they know me” to quote the man on Ace Ventura. I don’t know any other term to use. That is what the Native people say where I live. By the way, did you know that it was Natives that started using terms for skin color to denote, national origin? Ives Goddard, an expert in Algonquian languages has a very interesting article on that. Here is the article if you are interested.
    http://anthropology.si.edu/goddard/redskin.pdf
    By the way, you are not the first to say that I am all over the place when I have discussions. That is kind of how my brain works. Anyway, I agree that war-whooping and wearing of native clothing would be considered sterotyping and at least in poor taste. I am not native, so I cannot look through your eyes on this subject. I can however, understand being stereotyped. Not a pleasant experience.

    • I hope other linguists will see this claim and address it, as I certainly don’t feel like it. The words we use in Cree to describe other peoples are much more imaginative and descriptive than skin colour.

  7. Bob says:

    The word for Black man is kaskiteewiyaas. Waapiskiwiyaas means white person. Are these not both derived from the color of skin. Litteraly, Black-flesh, White-flesh.

    • The words you have used mean literally, “black meat” and “white meat”. Sorry, those are not words I hear used though they are possible terms. That you can construct these terms in our language does not mean this is how we think of people. wemistikôsiw for French, mistâkayâsiw for English. kihci-môhkomânisiw for a person from the United States. sekipatwâw for Chinese, etc etc etc. There are so many words we have to describe specific people and those terms are also evolving, as they are in other languages.

      Your claims smack of, “This is how I think of things thus this must be how you think of things”.

      I still fail to see why you are commenting on this blog to be honest. I am finding your posts to be an attempt to start a fight, with rare moments of backing off when it doesn’t work. Perhaps you should also ask yourself why you are here?

      • Emo says:

        I’m amazed that you took the time to reply to this guy.

        As you’ve already mentioned, most of the vocabulary dealing with “race” does not directly correspond to color in general (e.g., pwâta ᐹᐧᑕ, e.g., ayahciyiniw ᐊᔭᐦᒋᔨᓂᐤ, and a whole range of traditional terms meaning, “the people upstream”, “the people downstream”, “the people from that particular hillside”, etc., plus, more rarely, traditional terms relate to distinctive elements of dress or equipage, one of the most striking being kihci-môhkomân ᑭᐦᒋ ᒨᐦᑯᒫᐣ).

        An interesting exception to the rule (and evidently a result of English-language influence) is ᒥᐦᑯᑲᐧᔭᐁᐧᐤ mihkokwayawêw … i.e., “redneck”. (Maybe you can tell me how commonly this is used in spoken Cree these days?)

        The putative etymology of the most commonly used term for “white people” (ᒨᓂᔮᐤ ᐃᔨᓂᐤ môniyâw-iyiniw) is mused upon at great length over at Jeff’s website = http://moniyawlinguist.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/moniyaw-non-indian-person/

        The use of “red” as a racial category originates from European contact with the Beothuk on the east coast, and originally described their custom of covering themselves with red paint on ceremonial occasions (the Europeans in question did not consider this the natural color of the natives’ skin, but the contrary is now commonly supposed) … and, yes, the Beothuk are now extinct, without any monument to immortalize them on parliament hill (to my knowledge). The theory of “red” as a race has a pretty deplorable history in early European anthropology, to which one major (and influential) contributor was Immanuel Kant (whose racism remains a subject of great obfuscation). The idea that indigenous people perceived themselves as “red” (in contrast to what?) prior to European contact is completely risible.

        Obviously, none of this has anything to do with the subject of the blog-posting, “wearing us as costumes”, etc. … If Bob has so many First Nations friends (as he claims), let him talk to them (and let them talk to him); and if he’s really so messed up about these issues… well, why is he keeping up the pretense of never discussing these things with his friends on the reserve? If they’re really his friends… he should talk to them about it. If they don’t care about him enough to help him get over this, and deal with his own “status” as a môniyâw on the Rez, then they’re really not his friends at all.

        • That’s essentially my position as well. I try my best to educate those around me and I do a lot of legal and social work to deal with issues on a broader scale, but I cannot go through the A to Z of ‘native issues’ with every single person who comes along. If there is a real interest there to learn about the issues, closer and more personal resources are indeed at hand.

  8. Bob says:

    These words were taken right out of the Plains Cree Literary Dictionary which is based on texts by native speakers, elderly speakers, I might add. I did not construct them. I am not here to fight, but just because I don’t instantly buy into your explanations doesn’t mean that I am fighting with you. I am asking some hard questions that others might not ask for fear of offending you. They are not meant to cause a fight but to cause introspection. Aren’t you commenting as if your feelings are all that matter, or your point of view. I have not been rude, or disrespectful in all of my posts, unless stating a different point of view is rude. Ives Goddard is a widely respected linguist, who didn’t just make unfounded statements, he showed documented proof. It was not meant to start a fight but a discussion.

  9. Bob says:

    I think that this shows why there is not a lot of progress in relations between Natives and Non-natives. Neither one can handle uncomfortable truths.

    • Since your first post I have pointed out that I do not find your statements, claims, and tangents to be on topic. I don’t have any intention of engaging you on multiple, confused fronts. I have not censored you in any way, but I have been honest in my utter lack of understanding as to why you are on this blog, posting the things you are posting. I am not interested, and if that was not previously clear, I hope it is now.

  10. Bob says:

    I am not trying to express how you think. If you read my post, I said, that I don’t see through your eyes. But I guess if you don’t want open discussion here, maybe you ought to have a disclaimer on your blog, “only those who agree need post”.

  11. Bob says:

    I was wondering if modern movies like Dances with Wolves and Into the West, where Native actors where feathered headresses and whoop as they go to battle are offensive to you. This seems like it would be a good opportunity to change that stereotype. They don’t seem to be offended by that, and many well-respected Native activists, some from Canada took part in Dances with Wolves. So how can we expect a child from Haiti, whose parents were from Haiti to know better? Chances are, it was not done to humiliate your daughter though it might have had that effect. And also, you mentioned how certain items of clothing would not be offensive to you, moccassins etc, but other things would. The problem with that kind of thinking is that Native people don’t have a collective opinion on most things. If I asked all twenty thousand Natives here what they thought, some would say it didn’t matter, some would say it offended them, some wouldn’t even talk to me. Each would have an opinion on what is acceptable or not. Anyway, I will respect your wishes and go away.

  12. Bruce says:

    Hey Bob,Kiyam-pi be quiet, let it go.

  13. Audrey Jenkins says:

    Give me a break – I was horrified to see Indian Chiefs at the R.C.M.P. graduating ceremonies wearing full eagle bonnets draping to the ground, in moccasins and leathers. If they don’t want to
    have people costuming themselves like Indians, then stop doing it themselves.

    • Hahahahaaha…except when we wear traditional clothing…we aren’t ‘costuming [our]selves like Indians’ 😀 We wear certain items of clothing for specific purposes. I am afraid your horror is misplaced.

      • My ‘formal’ wear btw includes moccasins and a Métis sash, or a ribbon shirt. This is how I visually represent my culture. It is probably not how you visually represent your culture, and I would find it very strange if you wore these things unless you were specifically trying to pay your respects to being in an aboriginal context.

  14. don says:

    Would you be so kind to provide Word Document of your blog re. Attawapiskat?
    Thanks and keep up the good work. If you can provide additional links related to native political issues that we non-aboriginal types can learn more, that would be great and it would let you get off the hot seat and back to other issues dear to you. But you’re doing such a great job with this!
    Don

  15. scott says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I live in LaGrange, GA, where a local school board member — a white woman — dresses in traditional African clothing and assumes the character “Mama Jama” to promote child literacy. “Mama Jama” has just been named Grand Marshal of our Fourth of July parade in our small, Southern, and often racist city. “Mama Jama” also has a TV show on our local government TV channel. I have started a petition to have this offensive TV show removed from our tax-funded TV channel. Please see the petition and click on the “petition letter” tab to learn more, and please sign it and share it with your friends if you agree: http://www.change.org/petitions/city-of-lagrange-georgia-remove-mama-jama-from-tv

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