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Nothing Says Native American Heritage Like White Girls In Headdresses

Maybe it’s totally cool to be an oblivious racist these days. Whatever the case, there have been unusually high rates of “playing Indian” this year.

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Despite what dominant society and mainstream media say, Native culture is a vibrant and living culture. We are not a relic of the past, a theme or a trend; we are not a style or costume; we are not mascots, noble savages or romantic fictional entities. We are human beings and, despite all odds, we have survived. As sovereign Nations, Indigenous peoples have the right to speak for ourselves and not have dominant Euro-American society project and profit from an artificial and socially constructed image of “Indian” identity.

November has been declared Native American Heritage month, and I think next year would be an opportune time for corporate executives and members of the fashion and music industries to come visit Indian country and actually meet some of the people they are attempting to mimic. There are 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States, each with their own distinct culture, language, and history, and each with multitude of artists who could teach them a lot about beauty and dignity. Gwen, Karlie, Ke$ha and all you other culture vultures, maybe you should leave your synthetic headdresses at home. And by the way, I am sorry if any of you are offended by me calling you out for being offensive.

Sasha Houston Brown is a member of the Santee Sioux tribe of Nebraska and holds a BA degree in Sociology and Anthropology from Carleton College. Sasha has spent her life in Minneapolis and has been involved in numerous environmental and social justice initiatives locally and nationally. She currently works at Minneapolis Community and Technical College as an advisor to the American Indian students on campus.

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