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Native Fashion 101: Not doing it wrong, at least
January 24, 2014 9:43 AM   Subscribe

How to wear Native fashions without committing cultural appropriation. Also included: a photo album of gorgeous Native designs. (via)
posted by desjardins (135 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
OH MY GOD THAT COAT I WANT THAT COAT
posted by phunniemee at 9:47 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


I feel that my above comment was a bit rash. What I mean to say is, "oh my god, I love that coat and would love to have that coat, but all of the comments are of the 'how can I buy this' variety with no direct answer showing me how I can acquire said coat and actually I'm sure it's about ten bazillion dollars anyway but it is gorgeous and I am sad now."
posted by phunniemee at 9:50 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Dang it, my favorite type of Native American art, Northwest coast style, seems to be only used for women's high-fashion footwear. Oh well, at least I can appreciate them, if not wear them.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:54 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


how I can acquire said coat

Get some material and make your own. If you homemade it then you can really wear it like you own it.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:59 AM on January 24


Those beaded heels are insane, omg. I'm glad they're in a museum.
posted by elizardbits at 10:03 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Maybe on the linked sites, benito.strauss, but I've got a couple of Northwest Coast things (jewelry) that are made by First Nations artists that I bought in Vancouver. I've contemplated a tattoo in the Haida style over the years, but had dismissed it as too hipstery/appropriation. Until I met a friend of a friend who's Haida, and when she found out I'm part Hawaiian, she was all "No, you can totally get a tattoo! We believe that Haida and Hawaiians are related, so you're family to us!"

Still probably not going to get that tattoo, but it was wicked nice of her to say, and I'd had no idea that (some) Haida believe we're related like that.
posted by rtha at 10:03 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Sorry, phunniemee, The coat is sold, but looks like she'll be taking new commissions this summer.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:05 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


rtha, I don't do much body-mod/fashion myself, but a Tlingit raven tattoo is about the only thing that could tempt me - minus the same appropriation concerns you have. I think you should go for it, 'cause I don't think I'm gonna find any Haida vouching for a connection between them and Lithuanian Jews or Swedish Lutherans. If we're going by ancestry, my spirit animal is a Viking eating a bagel.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:31 AM on January 24 [30 favorites]


oh hey i saw this on FFA when it was posted. I love FFA, one of the absolute best subs on reddit.
posted by rebent at 10:34 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


y spirit animal is a Viking eating a bagel

Mine is a rabbi making a blood eagle.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:39 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


The excellent Tumblr POC Creators often blogs fashion items made by Native Americans. Also, it is a really wonderful anecdote for being the sort of person who very rarely sees themself respectfully portrayed in mainstream media.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:47 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


The TL;DR appears to be: don't wear faux-indian feathers or racist shit like redface. That seems pretty easy and non-controversial but I'm sure someone somewhere will be all like I DO WHAT I WANT and demand that no-one have an issue with wearing a giant feather headdress down to the piggly wiggly.

Oh, painting your face for battle isn't solely a Native American thing so that's probably okay despite what the site says, although they paired it with wearing another crappy fake-indian feather, so in that context yeah no good.
posted by Justinian at 10:49 AM on January 24


Can anyone explain why the broken pottery jewelry is offensive? I'm guessing it's something along the lines of taking artifacts (or breaking them) but I was curious and my google searches aren't bringing up anything besides sale sites.
posted by brilliantine at 10:50 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Hey, can we not to do the Spirit Animal thing here? I feel like a broken record, but it's Doing It Wrong and sorta painful for some. Here's the text of the last comment I posted about this, with links!

Spirit animals are a real thing, in real religions practiced by people who are currently living (and also reading this site). If you want a little additional reading, may I suggest Casual Racism is not my Spirit Animal and Why you shouldn't use the term Spirit Animal.

This doesn't need to be a derail, but please be aware that it's jarring and kinda icky to read for some of us.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:51 AM on January 24 [44 favorites]


Always good to link to Native Appropriations for those is-this-appropriation concerns.
posted by emjaybee at 10:56 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I have a beaded medallion that I bought when I was a teenager at a Lakota cultural museum* that I wore when I was in high school but haven't worn it in years because I'm not sure if it's appropriate. I don't know what to do with it, though. Sell it? Give it back to the museum? Give it to some other organization? It couldn't have been that expensive if I afforded it as a teenager (less than $50 I'm sure).

*The museum is operated by a Catholic school founded by (duh) white people in the 1920s, so I'm guessing the intent was to convert the "savages." For all I know, they're doing good work now but the history gives me pause.
posted by desjardins at 11:03 AM on January 24


The TL;DR appears to be: don't wear faux-indian feathers or racist shit like redface.

One thing I love about this link is that it's talking about what to do, as opposed to NOPE NOPE YOU CAN'T EVER.

Which, like, obviously redface or going as a Native American for Halloween is in Nope Nope You Can't Ever territory.

But the real question I (and presumably other people who want to be allies and also wear clothes) ask is:

But what is an admiring fashionista to do?

And I fucking love that this article starts there, and not OMG PANTS WERE INVENTED BY THE PERSIANS WHICH MEANS YOU'RE RACIST IF YOU WEAR THEM.
posted by Sara C. at 11:05 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


There are ritual practices that include the breaking of pottery, the shards are sacred.
posted by bonefish at 11:07 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Hey, can we not to do the Spirit Animal thing here? I feel like a broken record, but it's Doing It Wrong and sorta painful for some. Here's the text of the last comment I posted about this, with links!

But what about all other idioms related to other religions that really exist?

I had a big think about this when you posted a comment about it in another thread and... so, no more

come-to-jesus
that's not kosher
your body is a temple
sacred cow
blah is a shrine to foo
christ on a cracker
holy shnikes
do penance
died and gone to heaven
taboo
say your prayers
pray for rain
seventh heaven (an actual thing)
mother of god

I mean, I'm super on board with the whole appropriation phenomenon, and I think "Indian giver" and "gypped" and "Jew him down" and the like are right out. But "spirit animal" doesn't really seem in line with those obvious racist uses, to me. (As someone who has no documented Native American background.)

(I just realized I can't come up with any common idioms about Islam. Weird.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:12 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Sorry 'bout that, stoneweaver.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:12 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


But what about all other idioms related to other religions that really exist?

Stoneweaver just made a good faith argument as to why that term is jarring and kinda icky to read for some users of the site. Why don't you just take stoneweaver at his/her word? It doesn't have to be a big deal.
posted by troika at 11:16 AM on January 24 [29 favorites]


The clutch in the inspiration album looks like a defensive weapon.
posted by KGMoney at 11:17 AM on January 24


Genuine question: Why are minnetonka moccasins considered to be not-so-great (yellow)? This never dawned on me.
posted by mochapickle at 11:17 AM on January 24


Hey, can we not to do the Spirit Animal thing here?

It may be worth noting that Vikings had animal totems, although it probably is worth distinguishing them from native American spirit animals, especially in the service of jest.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:17 AM on January 24


Sara C., I would guess that the reason "come-to-jesus" might be generally acceptable but "spirit animal" might not is that Christianity is the dominant religion in the US whereas American native religions (sorry, I'm so ignorant I don't even know the term here) are marginalized. Same reason why having yet another objectified woman selling your Doritos or whatever isn't made okay by saying "we objectified the guy too, so it's even."
posted by The Minotaur at 11:19 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Because I haven't seen a particularly good explanation for why this idiom based on a thing that actually exists in a specific real religion is different from every single other idiom in the English language based on other things that actually exist in other specific real religions.

"I think you shouldn't" isn't a good explanation.

If someone can explain why it's specifically racist to do so, I will immediately stop.

And, hey, please educate me on why any of the other idioms I mentioned are fucked up and wrong, and I will stop using those, too.

There's just a point at which it becomes difficult to cut a language down to size for this or that specific individual who has decided they don't like a word. It gets perilously close to the "niggardly" controversy.
posted by Sara C. at 11:20 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Christianity is the dominant religion in the US

Most of the examples I listed weren't from Christianity.
posted by Sara C. at 11:20 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


my spirit animal is a Viking eating a bagel.

Mine is a viking getting hit by a piece of rattan. No, wait, that's my hobby.

Which, in a way, is why I found some of the yellow stuff kind of odd. Unaltered shell hanging off of something. Uh, what is the shrine of St. James of Compostela? Then I clicked on some of the the links. "OK, point made."
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:23 AM on January 24


Sara C., Notre Dame has the Fighting Irish and Minnesota has the Vikings, why shouldn't Washington have the Redskins?

Same argument.
posted by desjardins at 11:23 AM on January 24


It strikes me that the "spirit animal" derail should maybe go to MetaTalk. Sorry for my part in having fueled it.
posted by The Minotaur at 11:24 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


This is a shitty derail in a fantastic post. Demanding that minorities explain to white people why various things are offensive to those minorities because "it just doesn't make sense to me" is an ugly pervasive microaggression.
posted by elizardbits at 11:25 AM on January 24 [55 favorites]


Holy crap am I regretting using the phrase. It's turning into such a derail to such cool stuff. Can we please stop? Or if people really want to hash this out, just open a MeTa. But let's not do it here.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:28 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Why are minnetonka moccasins considered to be not-so-great (yellow)?

I think she's specifically talking about the ones with thunderbird beading on them. She says the others are okay. The thunderbird is an indigenous symbol, and I don't think Minnetonka Moccasins is a Native-run company.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:29 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


[For reals, please consider having this be a Metatalk discussion if folks want to continue with it and let's absolutely not do the "prove to my satisfaction that this is problematic" thing in here.]
posted by cortex at 11:29 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


It may be worth noting that Vikings had animal totems, although it probably is worth distinguishing them from native American spirit animals, especially in the service of jest.

Awesome! I would be totally for people saying "animal totem" if that's where they're coming from.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:33 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Squeak Attack, many thanks... I am looking at these now and I see how this could be problematic. I wear the simple brown loafer ones (knockoffs, no beading) and like the simplicity in the style but never made that connection. I'll do a little research.
posted by mochapickle at 11:34 AM on January 24


Sorry, Cortex. Like I said - no interest in a derail. I don't really have the effort or energy for a MeTa about it, so I'm being upfront that if someone starts one I will not participate.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:36 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Cowichan knitting is an example of cross-cultural osmosis that has produced a popular hybrid fashion, especially Cowichan sweaters.
posted by islander at 11:39 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I like the framing of "here's how to do it and be awesome," along with the links to artists and designers. The watermelon dress, about halfway down the photo album, is gorgeous and totally wearable.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:40 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


This is a great post, thanks! I really love a lot of Native and Native-inspired designs and textiles and welcome some discussion and guidelines on how to appreciate without appropriating.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:41 AM on January 24


I live in Arizona which in the past has been a hotbed of cultural appropriation. I think about how much it's changed, though, since I used to visit my grandparents here in the 70s. Back there was Kachina Bank, and Pueblo this and that, and thunderbirds advertising real estate companies, and tons of jewelry stores selling real Native-produced work and total fakes.

And not so much these days. On the one hand, I appreciate the cessation of cultural appropriation, but on the other, I wonder if the Native presence in, and contribution to, southern Arizona is somehow being elided from the consciousness here. In contrast, the Hispanic and Mexican presence is undeniable which is one of the great things about Tucson.
posted by Squeak Attack at 11:42 AM on January 24


I think the "having been made by a Native artist and paid for fairly" is a good hard and fast rule on most of this stuff. Which I can't afford. But will continue to drool over.

Out of curiosity, isn't there an inherent problem in mixing and matching traditions to make a "native" inspired fashion? For example, wearing a Plains-style shawl with a Navajo necklace and those sweet printed leather boots which I think are from one of the West Coast tribes? I mean, the author is obviously saying "use this as inspiration rather than dressing up in a costume", but it surprised me that this particular mix and match attitude wasn't mentioned.
posted by theweasel at 11:43 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Native people traded with each other in the past, and continue to do so. Which is only a partial answer to your question, which I think has lots and lots of layers. But a partial answer is - Native people have been mixing and matching for a long long time.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:46 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


phunniemee -- if you sew or know someone who does you can buy a Pendleton blanket or fabric and make your own. Or look for a local seamstress who can make it for you. Not cheap, but a few hundred not a few bazillion.

The Native Fashion 101 link specifically speaks of Pendleton having a long term relationship selling with a number of tribes, so anything they sell to the general public is pretty safe (as regards not infringing on special or sacred designs, etc.)
posted by pbrim at 11:48 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Explanation of the Yellow list:
Sorry guys, I seem to have created confusion with the "yellow light" list. It is created mostly in response to people who sell or wear "Native fashion" but have no idea what that would consist of. It shouldn't be taken as a "you can't wear this" list, but more of a "don't wear this as if it was Native fashion or you'll look weird cause it's not" list.
posted by divabat at 11:50 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I have a beaded medallion that I bought when I was a teenager at a Lakota cultural museum* that I wore when I was in high school but haven't worn it in years because I'm not sure if it's appropriate. I don't know what to do with it, though.

So, yea, I'm a simple person with simple thought patterns so forgive me skirting around what is possibly the main issue here a bit... but if my mom (who, full disclosure and all that, is a combo of delightfully earthy, crafty, eccentric, and native american) makes something, like she is wont to do, for someone or for sale, it's for the enjoyment of that person. If it involves wearing it that's great, if it involves not wearing it, great too. So, yea, enjoy it with respect and love as best fits your conscience.

It's hard to put in words but I may as well try... but I find it sad that people lack the sort of empathy to understand that there is a difference between celebrating and honoring the cultures, traditions, and work of others and appropriating it for their own pleasure. To wit, I find it less sad that people might not be able to see said difference right away because, at least personally, that's a harder thing to grok while the former topic should be almost common sense. Alas, from the images in the op and personal experience, it seems it's not.

*sigh*, like many things (onions and parfait and all that) this topic has layers and peeling them away is beyond the likes of me, but I will say that native craftsmen and women are generally an awesome lot that deserve support as well as respect and I hope it's not too much of a 'never the twain shall meet' situation as we continue down the road of seeing cultures vanish by the wayside.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:50 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Yes, that is a houndstooth gourd water dipper. Probably the only one in existence.

*throws down the paradox gauntlet, turns mic sideways, walks away*

posted by RolandOfEld at 11:53 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Demanding that minorities explain to white people why various things are offensive to those minorities because "it just doesn't make sense to me" is an ugly pervasive microaggression.

While I agree that it can be, some of us are legitimately trying to not be the ass who takes off their Cleveland Indians shirt and puts on a Washington Redskins jersey thinking they're OK now.

The moccasins thing kind of threw me, for example, and Squeak Attack's explanation was exactly the sort of answer I would have been looking for.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:53 AM on January 24


This is a great post! I discovered the other day that Millicent Rogers was responsible for turquoise Navajo jewelry becoming fashionable via this Vanity Fair video (part of a series - I was there for Audrey Hepburn and got sucked in).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:56 AM on January 24


Ok, but I was specifically referring to the spirit animal derail and not the overall purpose of the post, which is to explain cultural appropriations in the fashion world.
posted by elizardbits at 11:56 AM on January 24


Back there was Kachina Bank, and Pueblo this and that, and thunderbirds advertising real estate companies, and tons of jewelry stores selling real Native-produced work and total fakes.

I remember noticing that in my recent Delia's Catalog post. I noticed one of the t-shirts from the catalog was what looked like an Asian person (???) doing some kind of martial arts move, with the word HAPA in a kind of faux-Katakana typeface. Which... ugh. And yet I bet that wasn't the most questionably appropriation-ish thing in there.

Re the "on the other hand", I think one thing that complicates things is that the way people derive identity from places is really murky and tied to a lot of things that aren't simple to separate out. The word "pueblo" is a great example. In one sense, it's just the Spanish word for town. But then it's also an extremely specific word that refers to a specific Native American group.

I think it's definitely worth thinking about questions like "how do we preserve our sense of place without othering members of our community, or worse, being straight up racist?"
posted by Sara C. at 11:59 AM on January 24


Thanks for posting this, the fashion in the inspirations link is downright amazing and makes me feel all tingly (and that my wardrobe is shit).
posted by arha at 12:00 PM on January 24


but if my mom ... makes something, like she is wont to do, for someone or for sale, it's for the enjoyment of that person.

I think if a Native craftsperson has produced something and you've purchased it from them (directly or through their preferred reseller) you can feel okay about wearing or using it.

My mother has two Navajo squash blossom necklaces, purchased in northern Arizona and inherited from my grandmother who grew up in Arizona. My husband's side of the family has a bunch of Navajo rugs, bought at trading posts in the Navajo Nation. I'd feel fine about wearing/displaying these things.

Navajo panties from Urban Outfitters? Not so much.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:04 PM on January 24


RolandOfEld: I like the idea of a traditional woven European design making its way into a painted geometric context. It reminds me a little of the way the Persian boteh design (AKA paisley) spread worldwide, partially over the Silk Road and via China.
posted by Sara C. at 12:05 PM on January 24


Now I'm gonna need a new keyboard because I just wrecked this one drooling over the Shayne Watson coats, especially the men's coats, especially that black and grey one.
posted by rtha at 12:07 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


It reminds me a little of the way the Persian boteh design (AKA paisley) spread worldwide, partially over the Silk Road and via China.

Yea, I like it too but it's good to hear the sentiment shared by others. The parallel backstory for this one would be some sort of mashup of native traditions, poor southern culture appropriation by necessity and utility, and a famous football coach's wardrobe preferences.

I think I just found an opening line for if I ever write an autobiography.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:09 PM on January 24


Navajo panties from Urban Outfitters? Not so much.

When I was a teenager I bought a pair of blue jeans from a major retailer (can't remember which one) that had a headdress beaded/embroidered down the entire length of one leg. They looked really, really cool, and I frequently wore it with the aforementioned medallion. I was 16 and didn't know any better but it's cringeworthy to think about now. I guess I'm fortunate that I figured it out before I went to college in Montana with lots of kids from the reservations.
posted by desjardins at 12:13 PM on January 24


Stoneweaver and I talked it out via MeMail, she explained more about the reasoning with "Spirit Animal", and I agree with her now and we basically hugged it out.
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


My mother's family drove cross-country from Pittsburgh to LA in 1929 in a seven-passenger Studebaker. As they crossed the desert (no paved roads to be had) they passed Native artisans selling jewelry from blankets and my aunt purchased some beautiful pieces. Some bear swastikas (the positively oriented kind) so a few years later she tucked them away in a drawer, where they remained for decades.

I treasure them but wear them rarely. The craftsmanship is exquisite. I would love to know more about their origins.
posted by kinnakeet at 12:28 PM on January 24


Sara C.: I like the idea of a traditional woven European design making its way into a painted geometric context. It reminds me a little of the way the Persian boteh design (AKA paisley) spread worldwide, partially over the Silk Road and via China.

Have two tartan kimono and one houndstooth yukata from a very cool designer. I actually own that yukata, although I haven't worn it yet. Yukata are informal wear anyway.

posted by sukeban at 12:32 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


(I just realized I can't come up with any common idioms about Islam. Weird.)

Mecca is used quite often, e.g. "Comic-Con is Mecca for geeks and nerds from across the nation."

posted by Celsius1414 at 12:34 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Oh gosh. I went to a speed dating event where the icebreaker question was, "what is your spirit animal?" I knew it was wrong but I was already feeling too vulnerable to speak up. I did say, "it's a tree," and when not-witty people would say, "that's not an animal," I'd say, "I'm rebelling against the question." (I actually went on a lot of dates from that event but none of them led anywhere.)
posted by Skwirl at 12:35 PM on January 24


For a little background on some of the scared imagery/iconography they're talking about on this Reddit post, Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand is a great book with a lot of background on the images, the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, and population dynamics in the pre-Columbian eastern US. It's one of the better books I've read in a while. [via]
posted by wormwood23 at 12:36 PM on January 24


Power Animal might be a more neutral term to use, as the basic idea of associating oneself with an animal is not unique to any culture. The spiritual significance and actual practices are of course unique and sacred to particular groups, including cultures that have been wiped out and/or co-opted, such as those with which the term Spirit Animal is connected.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:46 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


The issue of cultural appropriation is very much on my mind. I spent September as an artist in residence at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument which was an experience mainly about wilderness and Ancestral Puebloan (formerly referred to as Anasazi) ruins and artifacts. That imagery really spoke to me but I try to be really respectful in how I incorporate iconography which is not part of my cultural heritage. It's a hard juggle at times and I welcome input, especially from modern pueblo people about it!
posted by leslies at 12:48 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


So, are all of these headbands code red or is it only when they're cheap feathers like this that it's code red?
posted by dabitch at 12:54 PM on January 24


I do call out coworkers all the time on, "let's have a pow-wow at the water cooler," and for a supposedly super progressive work place, people will jump to defensiveness instead of the, "oh gosh, I didn't know that. I'll try to use better phrases," answer that progressives should know to give when informed about faux pas.

Like, I even do the trying-to-be-helpful thing and be like, "you could say 'huddle,' instead," and one dude actually sincerely said, "But won't people get confused and think I'm talking about football?" Argh! That dude is kind of sweetly socially inept and didn't think about his words but it's a fracking silly thing that people who are supposedly smart about progressive issues turn totally clueless around Native ones.

This actually comes up a lot in the non-profit world, where hiring someone with beau coup diversity cred with regards to non-Native minorities can be trouble when they work in Native contexts. The really silly thing is that Native issues aren't that particularly different from other minority issues (respect, making space for small voices, saving traditions, gaining opportunity, rebuilding community and personal sovereignty are all common overlaps) but Native issues are just widely invisible and widely misunderstood.

A lot of Native culture does differ from American popular culture in as much that Native cultures often strongly value soft-handedness and the idea that the quietest person in the room may actually be the wisest and most grounded. But those ideas aren't really all that foreign either, since many cultures, like Judiasm for example, have proverbs like, "a word is worth one coin, silence is worth two."
posted by Skwirl at 12:56 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


So, are all of these headbands code red or is it only when they're cheap feathers like this that it's code red?

There's a bit later down about "feathers in non-native/European contexts" that even has one of the pictures in your first link as her example. They're fine.
posted by theweasel at 12:59 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Sara C.: I think it's definitely worth thinking about questions like "how do we preserve our sense of place without othering members of our community, or worse, being straight up racist?"

This is a very good question. I've been trying to grow the same kind of corn that the natives who used to live where I live (Meskwaki) used to grow when they lived here. I would like to think that this is a great way to remember who we owe our recourses to, and who we've pushed out to make room for ourselves. At the same time, I feel like growing Meskwaki corn could be inexcusably offensive, in that it's literally appropriating a sacred thing.

I've also tried re-appropriating my own distant cultural heritage by becoming a poor sheep farmer.
posted by wormwood23 at 1:04 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


"OH MY GOD THAT COAT I WANT that coat, but all of the comments are of the 'how can I buy this' variety with no direct answer showing me how I can acquire said coat and actually I'm sure it's about ten bazillion dollars anyway but it is gorgeous and I am sad now."

Yeah, it's a one of a kind item produced in partnership with an incredibly expensive Oregon-area woolen mill. Even if it weren't sold, which it is, I'm sure it would have been at least $5,000. At least. I saw a prêt-à-porter Pendleton pea coat at a store recently I liked, then looked at the price tag $1,995. I immediately left the store, realizing I am not even allowed to breath the air of such richness and never again even gazed at the storefront for fear of reprisal.
posted by mediocre at 1:04 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


A lot of Native culture does differ from American popular culture in as much that Native cultures often strongly value soft-handedness and the idea that the quietest person in the room may actually be the wisest and most grounded.

My Pawpaw and BigPaw confirm this to be true. Or would if you actually heard them speaking, rare as that is/was.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:05 PM on January 24


Oh man. Not for me, but this is completely badass. Hooray for witty reappropriation!
posted by this is a thing at 1:06 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I think part of the problem with the cultural appropriation discussion is framing it around "not my cultural heritage".

The problem isn't necessarily whether a giving cultural element is or is not part of your cultural heritage. It can be, but in most cases that's not the primary question to ask.

More important, to me, are questions like:

- Is this garment sacred to a specific group of people to which I do not belong?

- Am I wearing this garment in an appropriate context?

- Is this garment designed to communicate something specific that does not apply to me?

- Am I dressed up in a costume meant to portray an entire race or ethnic group?

We all wear things that are "not our cultural heritage" every day. Using that rationale to frame cultural appropriation actually makes it more difficult to have a conversation about what legitimately isn't appropriate, since everyone breaks that rule constantly.
posted by Sara C. at 1:09 PM on January 24


So, I'm half mexican. When I went to a Cinco de Mayo party in full cholo, was that okay?
posted by mediocre at 1:11 PM on January 24


I think there's also an element of whether or not you are sufficiently informed (as compared to blindly following someone else's rules) to have a reasonable response in the event that you were challenged about it.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:14 PM on January 24


der Indianer
posted by islander at 1:14 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


When I went to a Cinco de Mayo party in full cholo, was that okay?

I think that's up to you.

I know some folks on Metafilter would crap their judgey pants over Tucson's All Souls Procession but they'd actually be pretty racist in assuming Hispanic Tucsonans aren't involved participants.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:26 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


There's a documentary called Indians Like Us [warning: large picture of guy in redface] about godawful French people who dress up in costume and camp out in tipis. They genuinely think they're honoring Natives and a group of them travel to the US to meet actual Natives. The documentary is worth watching, but it's beyond cringeworthy.
posted by desjardins at 1:31 PM on January 24


Those beaded heels are insane, omg. I'm glad they're in a museum.


Those beaded heels are in the museum where I work and fill me with a terrible hurtful WANT.



My father used to work for the Apsáalooke/Crow in Montana, as an intermediary between Native artisans and retailers in Helena. When I was born, they made me a tiny itsy weensy pair of white beaded moccasins for unusually tiny baby feets.

So every time I see those beaded (and quilled!) Loubotins, I feel like they would complete some sort of cosmic circle of footwear.

Also- I haven't had a chance to read the entire thread, but benito.strauss - I think the designer you may be looking for is Dorothy Grant. She's a Haida artist who does beautiful work - I have a leather jacket from one of her older collections that is stunning (and unfortunately doesn't fit me and I will probably have to sell it.)
posted by louche mustachio at 1:32 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I think this is a bit much. I don't really understand the whole "cultural appropriation" thing anyway. It seems to be applied willy nilly and it irritates me. Like, do you really think that, as a consumer, you have a responsibility to go to the library and research all Native American prints to make sure that you don't buy something that might offend someone? Really? Do you do the same anytime you buy something with a graphic on it to make sure it wasn't actually made by someone else and that if it was that they gave permission and were appropriately compensated?

There's obvious lines to not cross if you care about this stuff. I don't shop at Urban Outfitters in large part because they have a reputation of ripping off small designers/artists. I don't wear "ethnic" costumes (sombrero, mustache, and poncho for "Mexican"; headdress, fringed tunic, and moccasins for "Native American"; etc).

If you follow this line of resoning, why are "Feathers used in other traditions (English, French, whatevs)" OK but Native American style feathers are not? What if I'm Russian? Isn't that also cultural appropriation? Or does it only depend on how marginalized a cultural subset feels? I'm Italian. Should I be offended when people wear Venetian-style masks? After all, it's MY culture, not yours.
posted by tealcake at 1:58 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


This is going to go well.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:00 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Wow Islander - that der Indianer article is a real shocker to me - had no idea.
posted by leslies at 2:00 PM on January 24


do you really think that, as a consumer, you have a responsibility to go to the library and research all Native American prints to make sure that you don't buy something that might offend someone? Really?

No, but, you know, don't wear a Native American headdress. It's a no-brainer that this is not OK. That's not just regular clothes and, whoops, it turns out someone on the internet thinks it's offensive. You know that's not appropriate. Don't be a jackass.
posted by Sara C. at 2:03 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


If you follow this line of resoning, why are "Feathers used in other traditions (English, French, whatevs)" OK but Native American style feathers are not? What if I'm Russian? Isn't that also cultural appropriation? Or does it only depend on how marginalized a cultural subset feels? I'm Italian. Should I be offended when people wear Venetian-style masks? After all, it's MY culture, not yours.

And btw this is case in point why "not my culture" isn't a great framework, but "appropriate context which probably doesn't apply to you" is a better one.

I made a whole analogy about urban outfitters selling Venetian masks, and what if hipsters started wearing them at Coachella to be ironic. But Venetian masks are traditional party attire, so actually that's probably a perfectly OK use of them.

A better analogy would be the rosary. You'd think it was inappropriate if you saw hipsters wearing rosaries as just regular jewelry, right? Same deal.
posted by Sara C. at 2:06 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I don't shop at Urban Outfitters in large part because they have a reputation of ripping off small designers/artists

Well, how did you come to know that? Do you research every single thing you buy to make sure no one is getting ripped off? No, you read (or someone told you) that they were doing that, and you made the decision not to be part of it. Same deal - someone says "Hey, wearing X is offensive to Native people" and you can make the decision to try to avoid offending people. Or you can make the decision that you don't care. There is no actual fashion police. There's just your own conscience.
posted by desjardins at 2:11 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


No one is going to go naked because all the items of clothing they wanted to wear are offensive in some way to some group of people. I will somehow survive without wearing feathers.
posted by desjardins at 2:15 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


it surprised me that this particular mix and match attitude wasn't mentioned

I don't think it's the mixing and matching that's problematic, it's that when you've gotten beyond an item or two, you've most likely moved out of the realm of putting together an outfit of things you admire to trying into the realm of trying to adopt a specific "Native look." Other cues--If you were just walking down the street in the shawl and necklace and boots you describe I would think you looked nuts, like you're attempting a costume. Depending on the type of shawl, if I saw someone in, say, the fancy dance shawl in the second link outside of a powwow, even if they were my (Ojibwe) auntie, I'd be like, are you....dancing today?? It'd be like wearing a cocktail dress to a football game or something, just doesn't make sense. If you're not matching formality or seasonal appropriateness or whatever like you do with your other clothes/jewelry, it seems more like fetishizing/appropriation to me. (On preview, what Sara C. was saying.)

I am Ojibwe but you would absolutely not guess to look at me. In my day-to-day dress, the biggest challenge is getting, say, huge beaded earrings to make sense next to my typically plain wardrobe and not having it look dumb. I usually only wear one "Native" thing at a time because it's rarely the case that two things have something in common besides "Native" for me and my purposes. At large powwows, however, (away from home where I know a lot of people, and assume the ones I don't could be sekrit NDNs like me), I get caught in a weird place between signalling that I *am* Anishinaabe (I could solve this problem in a second if I didn't avoid clothes with words--all the Indians I know are always wearing swag from past powwows, intertribal conferences, etc.), and not wanting anyone to write me off as being from the Wannabe tribe. Typically I think the Indian police can shove it because I know who I am and so does my community, but maybe circumstance has left me in a spot where I can't access some of my culture skillfully and now I'm playing at it, too. So I wear the more complicated barrette that you don't usually see on non-Natives, but I feel awkward about also doing my hair in two braids just for that day whether I should or not.

Another way this theme occupies my thoughts sometimes is that Native people themselves sometimes own some real cheesy crap (not usually like inappropriate headdress bad, but more in the "yellow" range of the post) and I'm at a loss to describe this phenomenon succinctly and predict where accurately where it appears. I do know that it was a real trick to not only cut off Indian cultures at the knees, but to take away their pride in it for generations while at the same time weaving a thread of "Indian pride" in the American national narrative. And now we're proud again and these faux-pride appropriated tokens persist. People end up reaching for those sometimes and I can't always tell they've thought about it, and if so, what they're trying to say by doing so, even if they're my family.
posted by zizania at 2:16 PM on January 24 [16 favorites]


Sara C, I'm not trying to be a jackass. I specifically said that wearing a headdress is an obvious line not to cross. I don't think wearing a rosary as regular jewelry because you think it's pretty is offensive. I'm just trying to make the point that the line the Reddit post is trying to draw is really arbitrary. And I dislike the notion that the onus is on the average joe to have a deep understanding of all marginalized cultures just because they want to wear something that's currently in fashion.
posted by tealcake at 2:17 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


You don't think wearing a rosary as jewelry is offensive?
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on January 24


Is wearing a cross offensive if you're not Christian?

I don't think it's the mixing and matching that's problematic, it's that when you've gotten beyond an item or two, you've most likely moved out of the realm of putting together an outfit of things you admire to trying into the realm of trying to adopt a specific "Native look." Other cues--If you were just walking down the street in the shawl and necklace and boots you describe I would think you looked nuts, like you're attempting a costume. Depending on the type of shawl, if I saw someone in, say, the fancy dance shawl in the second link outside of a powwow, even if they were my (Ojibwe) auntie, I'd be like, are you....dancing today?? It'd be like wearing a cocktail dress to a football game or something, just doesn't make sense. If you're not matching formality or seasonal appropriateness or whatever like you do with your other clothes/jewelry, it seems more like fetishizing/appropriation to me.

This makes sense to me. Please don't jump all over my case, call me names, and assume that I'm being a dick on purpose. I wouldn't have read it at all if I wasn't trying to get a better understanding of where everyone is coming from.
posted by tealcake at 2:22 PM on January 24


A cross and a rosary are not the same thing. It's the difference between a feather and a feather headdress.
posted by Justinian at 2:24 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


And I dislike the notion that the onus is on the average joe to have a deep understanding of all marginalized cultures just because they want to wear something that's currently in fashion.

I dislike the notion that deliberate (rather than incidental, temporary) ignorance gets a pass. I've managed somehow to go my entire life without wearing panties with Navajo patterns on them, or a rosary a jewelry, or etc. It's not that hard, really.

You (general you) don't have to have a "deep understanding." You should maybe just listen a little and pay attention some and maybe decide that (for example) it's not crucial to some part of your life that you can paint your face and go to a baseball game and make fake war whoop noises, or dress up as a "brave" at Halloween, and then you don't need to argue with people who are trying to explain why that shit's offensive. If you don't have a stake in it, that's fine, and you don't need to keep poking at it.
posted by rtha at 2:26 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


You know that's not appropriate. Don't be a jackass.

If you think your personal beliefs should be considered by everyone else and should influence what others can and cannot do (especially if those things don't directly affect you) I think that makes you the jackass.

That applies equally to wearing a headdress, drawing Muhammad or getting gay married. You might find certain thing distasteful and educating others who want to be more culturally-sensitive is great, but I definitely think tolerance and education is a better response than outrage.
posted by lubujackson at 2:28 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


And I dislike the notion that the onus is on the average joe to have a deep understanding of all marginalized cultures just because they want to wear something that's currently in fashion.

You're making it much more difficult than it is. You don't have to have a "deep understanding of marginalized cultures" to comprehend the English words "this is offensive." You don't have to understand why it's offensive. It costs you nothing not to buy something.

A much much more trivial example: I don't like being called by the diminutive (Jen or Jenny) of my name. The reasons are not important! If I say "Please don't call me that," then don't call me that. It costs you nothing and you don't need any "deep understanding."
posted by desjardins at 2:29 PM on January 24


I definitely think tolerance and education is a better response than outrage.

*gets out the bingo card*
posted by desjardins at 2:30 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


I see that argument, Justinian, and perhaps I misspoke/wasn't specific enough/playing devil's advocate too much but the point I'm trying to make is that someone who has not been exposed to Christianity and specifically Catholicism would not be able to make that distinction. So who cares? Why would it be my business to get all hot and bothered about it and make all kind of assumptions about their motives, lack of empathy, etc.

Shouldn't the outrage be more directed towards the companies making this stuff rather than the consumer?
posted by tealcake at 2:33 PM on January 24


I mean, put it this way. If you're gonna wear something, you probably want to have some idea how it makes you look. Not just "Is this attractive?" but "What cues is this sending about the sort of person I am?" You want to know, does this look professional? Fratty? Artsy? Hipster-y? Youthful? Old? Conservative? Casual? Sexy? Frumpy?

So in that sense, the onus is always on you to understand how your clothing comes across.

This list really isn't about outrage — at least, not once you get past the short list of serious no-nos like "Don't wear blatantly racist caricatures" and "Don't wear illegally harvested bodyparts of endangered species." It's just about letting you know how you'll come across, in a certain outfit, to a certain segment of the population.

She's not saying you're a bad person if you wear those goofy dreamcatcher earrings or whatever. She's just saying "Hey, so you know, actual Indians who see you wearing that shit are gonna perceive you as kind of clueless."

Up to you to decide what to do with that information.
posted by this is a thing at 2:43 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I know some folks on Metafilter would crap their judgey pants over Tucson's All Souls Procession but they'd actually be pretty racist in assuming Hispanic Tucsonans aren't involved participants.

Ugh, please don't. The issue of cultural reappropriation is far more complex than "but people of color are enjoying this too, so it's okay", and it's not helpful to reduce it down to just that one factor. I'm going to take this opportunity to speak about the stuff that matters to me regarding cultural reappropriation from my own context by using Chinese New Year as an example since it's coming up and it's kind of been bothering me lately - hopefully this will be helpful for people in understanding what PoC are actually bothered by when it comes to cultural reappropriation.

Am I inviting you to celebrate my culture with me, or are you doing so of your own volition without my input?

"I" in the general sense of my cultural community, of course. Who organized the event and for what intent? If I'm the only PoC at a Chinese New Year party full of white people who repurposed the event as an occasion to drink, I'm going to feel angry that they're using my culture like this. The reason why is because you effectively cheapen my occasion, history and tradition. You render the meaning of my own culture less accessible to me while making a transformed version of it an occasion for yourself. Even if I participate in the transformed version that you have recreated from a mockery of my cultural occasion (because hey I still like drinking and celebrating and having fun), that does not mean it is not reappropriative.

In essence, cultural reappropriation is what it is because it discards important aspects of meaning and tradition in favor of motif and appearance. It is not diversity to assimilate cultures like such, and do not confuse cultural reappropriation to be diversity. It is far shallower.

Are you fulfilling your duty as a guest at my cultural event?

Going off that last point, because the understanding is that I'm inviting to celebrate my culture with me as a cultural outsider, you have to be aware that there are certain unspoken rules that you are obligated to follow as a guest. If you were to show at my event and then criticize the traditional food that I'm serving as disgusting and tell me I need to change it, or tell me that the traditional decorations I have up are ugly and why should I be celebrating horses, then I have the right to give you the stink-eye even if I invited you in the first place. The further problem is that when it comes to marginalized cultures is that it often goes beyond criticism and into white people just seizing control of the aspects of my culture that they dislike and repurposing it to better suit them without my input.

It is also important to acknowledge that there are certain unspoken standards for behaviors at cultural occasions that you as a guest are expected to observe and follow. It's hard to go wrong with this at Chinese New Year because it is a pretty boisterous and celebratory thing - but if I were to re-invite you to a Tomb Sweeping Festival occasion and you were loud and obnoxious, that would be an issue.

Are you commodifying or sexualizing parts of my culture to the point that I can no longer enjoy and celebrate it?

The women in my family love to wear qipao at Chinese New Year events. But it's become so synonymous with western sexualization and objectification of East Asian women and "leg fetishes" that they can no longer do so. This is sad especially for my mother; she's always loved the way she's looked in a qipao, and she has this beautiful white flowing one that has been tailored to fit her exactly.

Are you more allowed to celebrate/use this iconography than I am?

I can't wear a changshan in public. Like, ever. If I do, I get racist comments about how I should go back to China - and it's not the comments that hurt, it's the constant pressure to assimilate and discard my cultural background that hurts. Meanwhile, when a white person wears it, it's fashionable and edgy and progressive.

And that's the double-standard of a lot of culturally reappropriative things. White people get to wear them; the PoC from the culture that the thing originated from don't - or worse, they only get to wear a version that has been stripped of all meaning to be completely empty.

What is the context of the culture/event within North America?

Chinese New Year is often fine as a piece of our culture that we can offer up as exchange. It's celebratory, it's pretty widely distributed across the world, it's huge and well-known, the Chinese community within North America isn't as marginalized as some racial groups that we can give people pieces of it without it being a huge threat to the value of our culture. But it's important to recognize that not every event - or every minority group - will be in the same position as that.

Are we paying due respect to the traditions going on?

Tough to go wrong with this again in Chinese New Year, because it has been even within the context of our own culture largely an occasion to celebrate and see family again; but even so, there's aspects that are important not to cheapen and important to pay due credence to.

What does my community say about it?

In Vancouver, where the Chinese community is pretty big and booming and awareness and respect for Asians is fairly well, we're okay with giving you more. We can soak up the threat of devaluing our cultural background because it's a malleable event and we're a rather strong community in our local context. But not every community will be in that position. And Aboriginal people are often the most lacking of privilege in that respect.


Take-Aways:

Just because PoC are also celebrating your reappropriated event doesn't mean it's not reappropriative - the question is if they are celebrating a transformed version of the event designed to be assimilated and of little threat to the white hegemony. Rules around appropriation aren't always going to be straight-forward. There's a lot to be said about the context the item/event fills in the culture, which you as an outsider may not appreciate, so even if one thing is okay, the next might not be. But even stepping beyond that, it depends on the consensus that the community comes to about what is and isn't a threat within their own contexts - there may be disagreement along PoC even within these communities, but as a white outsider, it's important to recognize that you generally have very little say in the conversation and also not use the disagreement as a tool to invalidate the conversations PoC are having about reappropriation.
posted by Conspire at 2:53 PM on January 24 [44 favorites]


And I dislike the notion that the onus is on the average joe to have a deep understanding of all marginalized cultures just because they want to wear something that's currently in fashion.

You burn that strawman down. Burn it straight to the ground.

I mean, really, it's like you're trying to be obtuse to the actual point that no one, literally zero people, are expecting or asking the average joe/jane to dive into anthropological texts to determine if that bedspread pattern or their curtain color or crazy hat is of cultural significance to someone, somewhere.

If I had a time machine I'd point you towards what I said earlier, specifically the part about how

I find it sad that people lack the sort of empathy to understand that there is a difference between celebrating and honoring the cultures, traditions, and work of others and appropriating it for their own pleasure. To wit, I find it less sad that people might not be able to see said difference right away because, at least personally, that's a harder thing to grok while the former topic should be almost common sense.

It seems like you've missed that part of things, either willfully or accidentally, and I encourage you to realize that reappropriation is the problem and that people who simply realize that, or just listen when it's brought up, are generally fine without any further action on their own part.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:21 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I would love to hear from any and all Hispanic or Mexican Metafilterites with their thoughts about the All Souls Procession.

Conspire, I was in no way trying to invalidate conversations PoC are having about appropriation, and when I made my comment, I was actually thinking completely about white people white-knighting about face painting. As for your general points, I will read and absorb because I do strive really hard to be thoughtful and sensitive about appropriation.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:22 PM on January 24


I can't wear a changshan in public. Like, ever. If I do, I get racist comments about how I should go back to China

I'm quite surprised to hear this about Vancouver. Disappointing.
posted by Hoopo at 3:24 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


playing devil's advocate too much

Just please don't. It's rarely a useful tactic in any context except maybe a rhetoric or philosophy class. And if you're going to use it in a discussion about something you've admitted you don't know much about and haven't given much thought to, it too easily crosses the line from "intellectual maundering" to "make the non-dominant culture justify why I should listen to them." Which is probably not where you were intending to go at all.
posted by rtha at 3:25 PM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Shouldn't the outrage be more directed towards the companies making this stuff rather than the consumer?

Kinda. It all depends. If either party is informed and willfully choosing the path of 'what's yours is now mine, k, thx, bai" then they're just as guilty as anyone. But again, there's no prerequisite cultural sensitivty exam before you stitch a dress together or make a beaded thing from stuff you got a Joanne fabric or make the awesome thing you saw on Pintrest for yourself.

... it's the nature of the beast that these confusing things happen, so we take the input and move forward from there.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:25 PM on January 24


I would love to hear from any and all Hispanic or Mexican Metafilterites with their thoughts about the All Souls Procession.

This isn't really the thread for that.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:36 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Conspire, that was great. You could print that up as a pamphlet and distribute it to kids in their 7th grade social studies classes.
posted by benito.strauss at 3:52 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I would love to hear from any and all Hispanic or Mexican Metafilterites with their thoughts about the All Souls Procession.

I'm as offended by it as Oklahoma' refusal to allow a Satanic shrine to be placed next to a public display of the ten commandments. However as previously mentioned, I'm only half hispanic so my opinion only matters fifty percent.
posted by mediocre at 3:53 PM on January 24


[Maybe let's rein it back in to the original subject of the post at this point, folks?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:58 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


She's just saying "Hey, so you know, actual Indians who see you wearing that shit are gonna perceive you as kind of clueless."


Some of the less blatantly problematic "fashion" isn't so much offensive as it is... ridiculous. Incoherent. Sort of like getting a tattoo of some Asian characters because you think they look badass and they actually mean "spicy peanut sauce."
posted by louche mustachio at 4:12 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Sort of like getting a tattoo of some Asian characters because you think they look badass and they actually mean "spicy peanut sauce."

To be fair, some spicy peanut sauce is pretty badass.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:16 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Just for the record, I have found that in most instances where I might use the phrase "spirit animal," I can easily substitute "Patronus" while preserving the meaning and also weed out non-nerds.
posted by nonasuch at 4:21 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]


You're all welcome to call it a 'hingeloom' but as I've found that one usually needs a map to explain that Estonia really exists, it's a bit of a conversation killer.
posted by cmyk at 4:36 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


And I dislike the notion that the onus is on the average joe to have a deep understanding of all marginalized cultures just because they want to wear something that's currently in fashion.

But that's the thing.

You don't have to.

You don't have to go research all other world cultures and know a list of what's OK and what's not OK.

You just ask yourself a few simple questions.

Do I know the context for when it's appropriate to wear this?

Does that context apply to me?

An answer of "I don't know" is equivalent to a "no".
posted by Sara C. at 4:50 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Hingeloom sounds pretty legit to me, but my father's family is Latvian, so YMMV.




I do like the idea that this is my Patronus, though.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:55 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Conspire, I was in no way trying to invalidate conversations PoC are having about appropriation, and when I made my comment, I was actually thinking completely about white people white-knighting about face painting.

I appreciate you being candid here, but I would like to suggest that as a general rule of thumb it's important to recognize that anything you say to white people in a public online space will also be read by PoC as well. And to me at least it sounded like you were using participation of PoC in reappropiative events as a weird gotcha. We can't really win in these situations because if we don't participate we get shut out of mainstream events and culture and accused of bad isolationist minorities who dislike "celebrations of diversity" and then not able to celebrate the original icon/event anyway because it's been repurposed, but if we do, we are forced to assimilate and disregard our culture. So I mean, attack from my experiences what is a complete straw man all you want, but please don't get us in the crossfire?
posted by Conspire at 5:34 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Do I know the context for when it's appropriate to wear this?

Does that context apply to me?

An answer of "I don't know" is equivalent to a "no".


This is how I decided that as beautiful as Indian (subcontinent) women's fashion is, and as much as I've long admired said fashion, a white girl like me probably shouldn't try to get married in a Jewish ceremony wearing a sari, lehenga choli, or salwar kameez...
posted by limeonaire at 5:42 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


So, I'm half mexican. When I went to a Cinco de Mayo party in full cholo, was that okay?

well mediocre, IMO bi-cultural people are in a special position as they know, intimately, all the ways in which they are always going to be wrong, for each side of their heritage.
posted by glasseyes at 5:48 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


The thing that frustrates me about appropriation conversations is that there are a lot of people who imply that if they're going to accept the concept, there has to be some sort of hard and fast rule of what you can do when with who how. Well...there isn't. You try to do what's right, sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fuck up, you reflect, you apologize and maybe your apology is accepted and maybe not, you try again, you get better, etc... I think a lot of white people want some sort of assurance that if they follow the right formula, nobody will ever be mad or annoyed or hurt because of something they do. But if you really care about doing right by other people, well, you will fuck up and you will hurt someone's feelings and you will realize it after the fact and feel bad about it but, if you're paying attention, eventually you will do it less.
posted by threeants at 6:30 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


I think a lot of white people want some sort of assurance that if they follow the right formula, nobody will ever be mad or annoyed or hurt because of something they do.

I think a lot of white people are looking for the way that they can go back to feeling 100% comfortable and reassured in every space with regard to race, unaware that white people are pretty much the only people who EVER get to feel comfortable and reassured with regard to race. Just accept that it's a big world full of a lot of people with big feelings and that sometimes you're going to feel uncomfortable and unsure, and try to do your best anyway.
posted by KathrynT at 6:44 PM on January 24 [17 favorites]


Here's a great Pinterest page for more wonderful Native American footwear art / fashion.
posted by taz at 3:10 AM on January 25


Sweet baby jesus, what part of TAKE IT TO META didn't y'all understand?
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:07 AM on January 25


I just realized I posted the word "anecdote" instead of "antidote" in my comment yesterday and I am slowly dying inside. I promise I know the difference between those two words, y'all.

I'll just be over here cringing and coveting those wild black leather legging things from the inspiration album if you need me.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:45 AM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Does anyone know of a better company to buy moccasins from than Minnetonka? It just occured to me that I'd love a pair for summer, and I'd love to throw a little $$$ at an independant maker. Maybe I'll post an Ask if none of you have any ideas.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:04 AM on January 25


Pow wow season is coming up, and I don't know when Chicago has its pow wow(s), but in my experience the larger ones always have a range of vendors you can feel pretty good about giving money to. They're also fantastic because it's basically mandatory for you to stare at and compliment the dancers' regalia, which has been carefully crafted and handed down. Also, fry bread.
posted by rtha at 9:16 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


Juliet Banana, the Minnetonka ones are fine as long as you don't get the ones that are all fancifully beaded with Totes Native American designs. And even those are on the "yellow light" list, which is more of a "hey guys you know this is not really a Native thing, right?" and less an appropriation/ruining sort of thing.

I have a pair of plain brown ones I wear to work with normal work attire because they are comfortable and ideally suited to the climate and my casual workplace. I wear them with normal clothes, the same way I would wear any of the other long list of clothes that come to us from cultures I don't explicitly belong to. For instance the fair isle cardigan I wore to work yesterday.

(On the other hand, the Minnetonka mocs are suspiciously cheap at DSW, which makes me wonder if they're not made in horrible sweatshops or actually a subsidiary of Nike or something else awful that might make you not want to buy them.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 AM on January 25


Um, are my new socks racist? Pls advise.
posted by purpleclover at 2:04 PM on January 25


I was going to say Oh Come On Now Really, but, hmmmmm. I don't know, they are, well, a lot of look, I guess. A lot of "ethnic" look. And because they're so specific, there's a chance that they might mean something you're not aware of. Which is where we get into complicated territory on this stuff.
posted by Sara C. at 2:10 PM on January 25


> Um, are my new socks racist? Pls advise

I love Stance socks, but I'd avoid their ones that are called "Cherokee" or their Rasta ones, just because they're not Cherokees or Rastas, they're socks, and one shouldn't encourage such behavior.

I have a beaded medallion, too, desjardins, that I'm not sure what I think about. I inherited it from my aunt and it's clearly just a touristy trinket -- it's a beaver (stop it), not at all abstract -- and I like it, but it's a bit too fakey Indiany for me to wear comfortably. If it weren't for the fakey Indiany bit I would love it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:07 PM on January 25


Who knows if their called Rasta or Cherokee? Just expensive, probably cozy socks, with a neat colorful maybe/probably Native inspired/appropiated design. People do it it all the time!
posted by SteelDancin at 6:55 PM on January 25


I would like to have the money to afford, and an occasion when it would be appropriate to wear, this coat and these boots because they are beautiful.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:05 PM on January 25


Yes, those boots are amazing. So amazing.
posted by dabitch at 9:42 PM on January 25


Holy fuck, those are gorgeous.
posted by this is a thing at 10:13 PM on January 25


How are boots like that made, I wonder. Is the beading done before the fabric or leather is sewn together? Or is it a bit of one, then a bit of the other?
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:59 AM on January 26


i don't care about the morality of it, that New Romantic makeup is appropriated, sorry, i just stole it. But seriously, the ones i love are the Florida Seminole woman in a canoe and the Victorian top-hat, amazing
posted by maiamaia at 8:40 AM on January 26


Piggybacking on Is This Appropriate: I have a hairpipe-bead choker, three rows, made of bone, onyx, and garnet. I got it in high school and wore it so often that the bone picked up a lovely patina, but I worry now that it's inappropriate for me to wear. My father was a goodly part Native but you'd never know it to look at me, and since he's either hiding or dead I can't really get clarification on that.
posted by cmyk at 8:53 AM on January 26


I'm An Indian Too - The 1491s
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on February 2


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