Native American Cultural Appropriation

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Cultural appropriation is when elements of one cultural group are adopted by a different group. While there are various types of appropriation such as fashion, art and music, this essay will focus on fashion appropriation of Indigenous Americans (also known as Native Americans). Fashion appropriation of Indigenous Americans refers to the adoption of cultural elements such as war bonnets, totem poles and tribal markings, used on clothing, hair or decoration. Fashion appropriation of the Indigenous is not foreign (Lynskey, 2014), established companies such as Urban Outfitters and Paul Frank Industries had been accused for appropriation (Hoskins, 2013). While, the companies may think that adopting the culture element display appreciation, appropriation …show more content…
As mentioned by Bear Witness, it is a form of stereotype that caused Indigenous peoples to feel ‘dehumanised’ (as cited in Lynskey, 2014). It is imperative to understand that the inferiority among the Indigenous peoples is closely linked to their gloomy history. Over the last 5 centuries, indigenous peoples were subjugated. Their land was taken from them and numerous were killed. Those that survived were only granted full citizenship at 1924. Furthermore, their religious rights remained unprotected until 1978 (Lynskey, 2014). In modern day, they continue to face countless discrimination through appropriation that causes them to feel inferior. Appropriation has robbed the distinct cultures of the 567 federally recognised tribes (Bureau of Indian Affairs, n.d.) by generalising that Native Americans share the same cultural elements. Moreover, appropriation is done without permission and it further diminishes the status of the Indigenous peoples. Besides robbing their distinct cultures, appropriation disrespects the significance of the cultural items. In a severe case, war bonnets are being sexualise and worn frivolously by a Victoria’s Secret model for a fashion show in 2012 (Ariz, 2012). By robbing their distinct cultures and disrespecting their culture, it portrays an image of their history; a period of time where the Indigenous peoples have no power to prevent others from taking …show more content…
The approaches are through educational policies, initiatives from universities and intellectual property law. Firstly, there are several States with policies that emphasise the need to teach tribal history in school (Klein, 2015). For example, Washington State had established a bill, HB 1495, introduced by Representative John McCoy in 2005, that requires schools to teach Indigenous’ history (Washington State Legislation, n.d.). The bill was introduced with intention to uphold the Centennial Accord signed in 1989, which aims to improve the relationships between Indigenous Tribes and the State (Washington State School Directors’ Association, 2012). With the bill effective, it improves the relationships with the tribes and the youths should acquire deeper understanding of the community through education. Thus, able to foster a deeper relationship with the natives, and hopefully minimising the inferiority amongst natives. Secondly, some universities such as University of Colorado, Ohio State University and University of Minnesota took initiative to warn their students to choose appropriate Halloween costume that would not perpetuate racial, cultural and gender stereotypes (Fox News, 2013). Although the universities do not punish students who refuse to heed the warning (Fox News, 2013), this initiative should reasonably persuade students to choose appropriate costumes to avoid

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