Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Identity Is Not A Costume for You To Wear!

Dear Halloween Lovers,

Every year around this time, I see some idiot running down the street with an "Indian/Native American" costume (it gets worse during Thanksgiving). I have often wondered in this supposed "PC/Post Racial" country, why Americans insist on insulting the Indigenous Native American population by reducing them to mythical creatures of fantasy during Halloween?

I understand that to many Americans, Halloween is a time of blood-curdling fright, fantasy, and sugar candy coated fun! The purpose of the Halloween costume (according to Wikipedia):

"goes back to Celtic traditions of attempting to copy the evil spirits or placate them..Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm"

Obviously, the pagan connections of Halloween are long forgotten, and today Americans wear costumes to not only scare, but "to portray the wearer as a character or type of character other than their regular persona at a social event..than would be socially unacceptable otherwise." So if you wish to dress up like mythical creature (Goblin, Spiderman, Unicorn (Heeyyy!), or larger than life celebrity or public figure (Glenn Beck, Paris Hilton, George Bush), than Halloween is your day to do so!
Boo Liv Tyler!

Now, what twists my trick-or-treat bag in a bunch, is where the heck Native Americans fit in all of this! Why is it socially acceptable to dress like the stereotypical Indian: "Brave","Chief", "Princess", "Squaw", "Maiden"? Pardon Moi, but when did the Native American enter the realm of Wizards, Fairies, Super-heroes, Goblins, or Ghouls? When did it become ok to reduce the diversity, language, and culture of nearly 500 different Indigenous tribes into a tacky "costume" of cheap suede, colored feathers, plastic beads, and fringe? Who decided that the history, identity, and lineage of Native Americans could be easily put on and taken off like greasy Halloween face paint? Who was the Native gal or guy, who gave the American people the "Okay" to do this? Who signed the treaty to allow such mockery to run a muck?

Any intelligent person knows that:
  1. Native Americans are REAL people that don't live in Never Never Land, Fantastica, or some stupid Indian Cupboard. Need Proof? Well I am your proof! I live in Apartment in Arizona. Yep! I even wear shoes! Shocker!
  2. The "Noble/Bloodthirsty Savage" stereotypical imagery is a myth.
  3. There are many Native American tribes, which have their own distinct language, culture, and very importantly traditional attire (NOTE: I did not say costume). There are more than 500 Native American tribes in the US, and NONE of them traditional wear a skimpy faux suede fringey number with plastic neon beads, feathers, and a cheap geometric ribbon headband.
  4. Also, the concept of Native American royalty (princess, kings, queens) is a complete bullocks! It was a European concept to simplify the complex social stratification of many Native American tribes. So will someone please yank Pocahontas off the Disney Princess list!? Thank you!

My point is that any intelligent individual knows that Natives (modern or historic) don't look, dress, (or act) anything like the stereotypical Indian get-ups at your local costume store or Wal-mart. Any perceptive person would either roll their eyes at the gross insult to Native American culture, or laugh at the tasteless, "hot mess" of a costume that supposedly passes as some generic Native American attire.

Yet, every year...every freaking Halloween (and Thanksgiving) I see "pale face" men and women prancing around in some stupid "Indian" costume, and behaving like some feral jungle book child; Beating their chest, doing the "Injun" war whoop, and spouting phases like: "How!", "Smoke-um-my-Peace-Pipe", and "What made the red man red?"

As a Native American, I am utterly appalled to see my culture lump together into some stereotypical Pan-Injun image, shipped and sold for the American masses to mimic my people and culture. I find it insulting my identity and heritage as a Native American, as a Navajo, is as easily acquired with few bucks, some nasty grease paint, and a loin cloth. That history of genocide and forced assimilation of Native Americans people in the US is not even an accessory to these supposed costumes! It's not important or even a consideration!!! What a privilege it must be to take the imagery of a people or culture without the social or historical baggage that goes along with it!

I hope you can understand my frustration; that the race and ethnicity of a group of people is not an acceptable Halloween costume!? No one in their right mind would dress up in black face to portray an African-American for Halloween! Hell no! Unless your blatantly racist, or damn ignorant about racial relations in the United States. I mean Michael Scott from the Office wouldn't do that, and that Mo-fo is the most ignorant White-American besides Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

So Damn it! LISTEN UP! Halloween Lovers! I'm taking a stand (no DWW jokes!), and I hope that this blog encourages many of you to say:"NO" to wearing Native American costumes for Halloween. I hope you encourage your friends who are thinking about it to also do the same (Hell, spread this blog around!). If I see anyone in some stupid Indian costume (this goes for you Natives as well who think its funny to dress up like this!) I am going to go PETA on your ass with a bucket of paint! BEWARE! This also applies to all REAL Natives and the phony Natives who claim Native lineage! It's not cool! There is nothing more pathetic than a Native wearing an Injun costume! By doing so, you insult our culture, ancestors, and history, and are nothing more than the token Injun for the American guilty conscience.

Great! So back away from the obviously racist "Native American Costume" this year, and go with something less offensive and less gaudy. If you are an intelligent person already, then spread the word against such Halloween offenses. Its not cool to dress up like a Native American, or a person of Asian, Mexican, African decent or any other ethnic group ever lived for that matter!

Your friends will thank you, I will thank you, and you will be saving yourself from the ridicule or snickering from intelligent individuals and/or REAL Native Americans that see your racist costume as an insult to a group of people that inhabited this country before Columbus was even born!

If you are still clueless to why you should wear a  "Injun" costume, please read this:
Question: Should I dress up like a Native American Indian for Halloween?

Thank you,

A REAL Navajo Native American

PMS. It's been two years since I wrote this blog and I am very happy to see that I was able to sway a few people from donning the Stereotypical Indian costume. I don't reply to comments below, but I think I will over the next few days in a separate blog posting, because some of the comments are down right insulting.

Halloween Hall of Shame!! Boooo!

Can I get a Whoop Whoop!? NO!
I think she is ready for some line dancing not a Pow-wow. UGLY!
Let me guess...White Witch from heels?
One little, Two little, Three little insults...
A Native American from Ancient Egypt
No comment..
Pale face Red face insult