“Appreciation or Appropriation?”

Every year at the How Weird St. Faire in San Francisco, several Howard St. blocks transform into a magical sweetly freaky village of dj stages/floats, art in alleys, local designers, mythological realms, fabulous costumes.  Streets taken over for public creative expression, dancing on the concrete in the sunlight is a beautiful thing. One of my favorite things. This year, amidst the dazzle of many outfits, I was repeatedly struck by how many people were wearing large feathered headdresses (along with hot pants, platforms, ironic t-shirts, etc.).  White people dressing up in Plains Indian style war bonnets – what is going on with this costume choice? What to say? I was recently discussing this phenomenon (its many manifestations and the sensitive discomfort of calling it out) with a friend who is a long time solidarity activist with Native land-based struggles, and she and a colleague have just created a fantastic pamphlet on exactly this! Excellent resource filled with vital information, critical context, and a warm invitation to become more aware.  Not about shutting down self-expression – about becoming more mindful, connected and engaged.  Made to be able to easily hand out at festivals, or anywhere else.

Here it is, hot off the press:

Is My Indian Headdress Offensive- PDF

(also in printable pamphlet layout in our Resources section)

“Congratulations dear fellow human! Your headdress has afforded you the learning opportunity of a lifetime! Your consideration is humbly requested.”

4 thoughts on ““Appreciation or Appropriation?”

  1. Thank you SO much. I’m an actual Mohawk and having to deal with this around the Mission lately has been giving me an ulcer. I’m not the type of guy that wants to stop people on the street and lecture them about their fashion choices, but it’s really nice to see somebody making salient and intelligent points about why this is such an upsetting trend, as well as offering up some history to people who probably need to learn it. Thanks again for posting this.

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