Native American culture can be found in not only sports team logos, but on stage with popstars and as popular clothing trends. In the past couple of years Native American inspired clothing and accessories have become a popular trend.
In 2004 OutKast preformed their song “Hey Ya” for the grams sporting green Indian inspired outfits with a glowing green tee-pee in the background. The song starts out with an introduction spoken by Jack Black then traditional Native American music. Then the dancers come out and the song “Hey Ya” begins to play, which is doesn’t seem to have to do with Native American music at all.
Though it is a fun and lively performance, do Native Americans find this offensive? Its great to be inspired by a culture with such a rich history and background, but it’s a little off putting to see a native American war bonnet being worn by a DJ with glowing turntables and surrounded by dancing girls. The War Bonnet has become a common indicator of Native American culture; they come in many shapes and sizes depending on who was wearing them and where they were from. The one thing that is important to say about these headdresses is that the people who wore them earned the right to wear them. Accomplished warriors and chiefs wore beautifully decorated war bonnets, like this trailer war bonnet:
Not to make assumptions about the cultural background of the group OutKast’s DJ but I highly doubt he and singer performer Ke$ha are Native American Chiefs, warriors or traditional Native American Dancers. Especially since war bonnets were not usually worn by women. Here she is recently singing her hit song “Blah Blah Blah” with another popular group 3OH!3 wearing a war bonnet.
The song, her clothing, the other performers and set had nothing to do with native American culture; originally when she entered the stage she wasn’t even wearing it, yet by the end of the performance she had it on.
This is a huge trend, in fashion as well as in popular music. So what do Native American people think? Do they find this trend to be promoting their culture and spreading their traditions? Or do they find this to be offensive and rude? Well there are tons of online blog responses to this popular trend, but none of them are in favor of it. The blog Native Appropriations quotes popular native American Blogger Lisa Charleyboy in response to this issue saying
“The significance of the war bonnet in traditional Native cultures is huge. It is used in ceremonies, and it is only worn by those who are awarded them after many years of effort, and usually only be men. No artist would dare don a kippah or a turban so the same respect should be given to Native peoples and their traditional, ceremonial wear.”
Being inspired by different cultures is fine. Just before one starts to put on a piece of clothing from a different culture it would be nice if people did some sort of research on the actual culture. Native American Headbands that have no religious or cultural significance, there are infinite bead patterns that one can use to decorate them as well. Such as this adorable beaded head wrap from freepeople.com.
Cultural appreciation is great, and it can be done without offending people.
Pictures and information from: http://www.native-languages.org/headdresses.htm
Picture of Native American Inspired Headband from: http://www.freepeople.com/
Videos from: http://www.youtube.com