IndigNation | by Bev Cardinal
So I’ve been on-the-line looking to see what kind of creative and imaginative costumes are available this Halloween. Not that I’m a particularly creative or imaginative person or because I commemorate All Hallows Eve and need something special to wear to church. I don’t even have children who love the idea of complete strangers giving them free candy and treats on cold, dark, October nights.
No, I’m interested in seeing which retail stores, pop-up stores and online vendors still have the outlandish balls to appropriate, produce and sell made-in-China Indigenous-themed costumes such as “Native American Princess,” “Toddler Little Chief,” and “Sexy Cherokee Warrior.”
Unfortunately, my extensive research sadly shows that yes, cultural appropriation, the denigration of Indigenous children, women and men, and the trivialization of Indigenous regalia and sacred objects is still very much alive and well in Canada. Just check out amazon.ca or wholesalehalloweencostumes.com if you don’t believe me.
Wuh. Tuh. Fuh?!
Despite growing efforts to bring national and international attention to the issue of cultural appropriation, non-Indigenous people still obviously think that the fucked-up idea of deliberately seeking out, buying and then actually WEARING costumes that trivialize someone’s culture is somehow acceptable. If that’s the case, someone please tell me where I can go on-the-line to buy a “white person costume”. And why the fuck I would even want to degrade myself to do that?!!
And don’t get me started on the topic of seemingly ordinary German citizens who camp out in the Black Forest to deliberately live like Hollywood-versions of North American Indigenous peoples — that’s a topic on a whole other level.
If you’re White and insulted by my anger, think about why. If you’re laughing about this issue, think about why this all seems funny to you.
But if you’re genuinely offended and outraged that this kind of cultural appropriation is still allowed in 2019, then use your voice and your position of privilege within the majority to make your views known. Support Indigenous people in our efforts to educate and inform about this issue. Remember: silence implies complicity.
And Now A Truth And Reconciliation Moment
One thing important to know about Indigenous worldview and teachings is that it’s okay to make mistakes. Maybe you had no idea about any of this stuff. The best thing you can do is admit you didn’t know and maybe even apologize if you discover you were doing something disrespectful. Simple acknowledgement that we don’t know what we don’t know is truly golden, in my opinion.
The “truth” is a critical first step in the journey of reconciliation. No, it’s not easy or comfortable but it helps build relationships and makes people feel heard and respected. It’s miyo-wîcêhtowin: living together in harmony toward better understanding.