February 12, 2012

Indian Headdresses Should Not Be On Etsy

But, they are.

And you can find a couple hundred options to pick from.

Native Appropriations blogger Adrienne Keene has already explained over and over again why you can't wear a hipster headdress, and other writers Kate Burch, Mimi Thi Nguyen, and Julia at a la garconniere (among others) have also shared their perspectives on the matter (yes, it is beginning to feel a weensy bit repetitive).

The most recent case against the misuse of the Indian headdress has been brought forth by Metis author Chelsea Vowel, who noted in a HuffPo article that unless you have earned the right to wear a headdress, don't. It's really simple, but Vowel recognizes that some people still don't get it, so she does a wonderful job of explaining it again. She states the following: in some cultures, some items are off-limits. These items cannot be possessed/reproduced by just anyone. And, for the most part, headdresses are restricted items.

But I often wondered where people were getting these headdresses. Clearly, someone is making them and selling them. And it turns out that one of the places where you can buy yourself a nifty little Indian headdress is on Etsy. (Side note: It is quite fascinating to see who the makers are, and how they market these headdresses to potential buyers.)

The last time that I wrote about the 'interesting items' floating around on Etsy, some people did not like that I named names. So, there will be no naming names in this post, just linking.

Exhibit A: Feather and Leather Headdress (for the chiefs in London)

Exhibit B: Rainbow Chief Headdress (made with magical materials)

Exhibit C: Little Indian Headdress (to teach your kids how to play Indian)

Exhibit D: The Native American Indian Hooded Towel (for post-shower chiefs)

Exhibit E: Custom Indian Chief Headdress (for the chiefs on a budget)

I think you get my point. But now I have a question: Who do you think should be able to make/sell Native American headdresses?

  • A warning: After my first Etsy post, I was told that instead of discussing the misappropriation of Native American cultures found on Etsy on my own blog, I should have instead contacted the artists in question directly. However, I was then informed that if I directly contact an artist I would be reported to Etsy (Sounds like a catch-22). So, be aware that if you approach any of these Indian Headdress Artists you might be reported to Etsy. If you think you have a right to say something, ask yourself first, 'Am I willing to sacrifice my Etsy rights for this?' But another option we have is to send the faux Indian stuff to Regretsy (click here to learn more about this amazingly wonderful site), and they have the logistics figured out.

I would like to leave you with this video by Dallas Goldtooth - a lovely tale of racism, ignorance, and shoes.

(Note: special thanks to Joni for the Little Indians link.)