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Opinion: Just say no to ‘playing Indian’
After an outcry, Victoria's Secret apologized for its use of a Native American headdress.
November 23rd, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Opinion: Just say no to ‘playing Indian’

Editor's Note: Jenni Monet is a journalist and documentary filmmaker who writes and makes films about Native and indigenous issues.  She is a frequent contributor to Indian Country Today Media Network  and a tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna.  She tweets @jennimonet.

By Jenni Monet, Special to CNN

(CNN) – As another Native American Heritage Month comes to an end, I have to stop and ask, did anybody other than Native folks even know it was taking place?

Since 1990, the federal government has declared the month of November a time to pay tribute to the achievements of the nation’s estimated 2.9 million American Indians and Alaska Natives (PDF).

The national observance is not unlike America’s commitment to African-American history month or Hispanic heritage month, a time of year that major brands have come to commercialize in recent years.

Thanksgiving is some Native Americans' 'Day of Mourning'

But little recognition has been paid to the original inhabitants who represent 1% of the U.S. population. Instead, this November, there has been a series of cultural gaffes made by celebrities, journalists and large companies during a time set aside to acknowledge and honor Native people.

It began with the release of "Looking Hot," the comeback video for rock band No Doubt. The Wild West-themed production featured lead singer Gwen Stefani dressed in Native American-style clothing and taking part in fictitious Native rituals.

After social media outcry from the Native American community, No Doubt posted an apology on its website and agreed to pull the video one day after its release. “As a multi-racial band our foundation is built upon both diversity and consideration for other cultures,” the group's statement read. “Our intention with our new video was never to offend, hurt or trivialize Native American People, their culture or their history.”

But damage had already been done. The Daily Mail Online, a UK-based publication, labeled Stefani’s character as a Native American “squaw.” The Algonquin word today is frequently considered offensive to Native women, from condescending images to explicit racial epithets similar in tone to other ethnic monikers such as “Negress” or “Jewess.” Had the Mail’s journalist referenced even the most elementary source, the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it may have avoided making a remark degrading to indigenous women.

Meanwhile, in coverage of the band’s misstep, the Los Angeles Times hosted a poll on its website. “Were you offended by the ‘Looking Hot’ video?” it asked, to which an overwhelming 65% of readers responded "no."

The Huffington Post raised a similar question in the aftermath of Victoria’s Secret’s headdress faux pas: the runway disaster featuring supermodel Karlie Kloss scantily clad in a Native American-style headdress and chunky turquoise jewelry. In its online poll, nearly half of its readers felt “people shouldn’t be so sensitive” to these kinds of cultural flareups. On November 10, Victoria's Secret apologized and said it will remove Kloss’ controversial look from the upcoming television special.

Navajo Nation sues Urban Outfitters for alleged trademark infringement

While statistics like these are far from scientific, I can’t say that the results are all that startling.  The reality is, Native Americans have long suffered a public relations problem in a society that would rather regard today’s Indians as relics of the past.

With few Native American staff in newsrooms, it’s little wonder why the media reaction from the Stefani and Kloss incidents resulted in questioning the integrity of cultural appropriation rather than honoring Native people.

In addition, what lies at the core of these sexually charged fetishizations of Native women is an ongoing fight to protect the safety of Native women. According to congressional findings of the 2010 Tribal Law & Order Act (PDF), 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped; 39% will be subjected to domestic violence. That is more than twice the national average. In addition, the 2008 study by the National Institute of Justice (PDF) suggests that on some reservations, Native women are murdered at more than 10 times the rate of their non-native counterparts.

In the past year, Native advocacy leaders have made a push to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act in Congress. The law would empower tribes for the first time to seek justice against non-Indian offenders.

Where Native voices are being heard is on the message boards of Facebook and Twitter. American Indian activists and scholars are some of today’s authors behind a budding collection of blogs shining a light on these issues and others that matter most to the Native community  But so far, it seems the only people paying attention are Native peoples.

Despite all the uproar from the Native community that occurred in the aftermath of the No Doubt and Victoria’s Secret incidents, the restaurant chain Hooters was the latest to issue a mea culpa on November 15 after hosting a “Cowboys and Indians”-themed dress-up day for its staff at one of its Indian franchises. “We admire and honor Native American culture and history and never intended to offend,” read the statement from Hooters Corporate.

Thanks for the apologies, Hooters, Victoria’s Secret and Gwen Stefani, but next year, can you please acknowledge Native American Heritage Month and just say no to "playing Indian"?

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jenni Monet.

Posted by
Filed under: History • How we look • Native Americans • What we think • Women
soundoff (325 Responses)
  1. ron

    DEPENDS ON HOW MUCH IT PAYS. "THE LITTLE RASCALS" AND "AMOS AND ANDY" CAST MEMBERS, WOULD HAVE FAIRED MUCH BETTER, IF TAKING THESE TYPE OF ROLES WITH STEREOTYPES, KNOWING THAT JUSTICE WOULD CATCH UP, SOONER OR LATER. RESIDUALS AND ROYALTIES WOULD HAVE IMPROVED THEIR QUALITY LIFE, I'M SURE, BUT, YOU CAN'T FIGHT THE NAACP AND CORRUPT MOVIE MOGULS, AND GOVERNMENT PEOPLE. (BACK THEN, ANYWAY.)

    December 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. yawn.

    Elizabeth Warren was not available for comment.

    December 4, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Speakup

    American Indians are the single-most under-represented group in the United States. The NAACP won't be holding any marches for the representation of native peoples at the highest levels of government and business. Oprah Winfrey won't be highlighting the lack of educational parity among reservation children. And this posting board – with out right hate-filled stereotypes about drunk, tax-evading gamblers highlights the fact that this country has a very long way to go towards inclusion and understanding. It's not about some half-naked white chick wearing a headdress, it's about the general disregard that American Indians are part of the fabric of our nation and deserve to have their culture respected. So we can't "get over it" and it's not "a compliment." Maybe if we get mad we can get down to the real issue: why are the efforts of Native people to pass on culture, history, language, and religion marginalized?

    December 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KEVIN2121961

    Most all photos I've seen of native americans that were taken in the 1800s and very early 1900s show they were dressed very differently then what we think of as native american attire. The clothing was made for protection from the elements and really didn't vary that much from tribe to tribe.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mike Wakowski

    Wahhh! Wahhhh! Waaa-wahhhh!

    December 3, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michelle

    Ok – if we follow the logic in your article...aren't black women who dye their hair blond, straighten it to pieces or wear wigs...in effect are wearing a whiite woman's head dress? Give me a break. Personally, I love to see people of all cultures embracing and borrowing differences. It's a great compliment. The fact that Victoria Secret had to apologize over this??? I should complain that Victoria Secret has exploited big breasted women for years...and it bothers me...as I am large chested. Lol

    December 2, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crecymar

      Not to mention that blacks, Mexicans, Indians and Asians wear our European fashion clothes and shoes.
      I haven't thought of it before but now that I am, it does offend me that these africans and others wear our business suits and leather shoes and everything else that is european fashion. Why are they wearing our clothes? Who gave them the right and why should they have the right to?

      December 2, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
      • LISA C

        You are SO very ignorant!!!!! Grow up!!!

        December 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      You don't get the difference between what's culturally significant to one people versus plain ole fashion for everyone. A more apt analogy would be that it's not okay to wear black-face. This kind of reply illustrates the lack of understanding and ignorance about these issues that characterize so many non-Natives' opinions: attempting to apply an incomplete 'if-I-were-in-their-shoes" analysis when you haven't taken the time or gone through the effort to really put yourself in their shoes.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. Johnmeister

    Please, lets show some cultural sensitivity when selling T&A!! (sarcasm intended!)

    December 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Christopher

    I don't give a damn about the hypersensitiveness of left wing Marxists and native Americans, or blacks or any one else. They are just jealous that this young white woman looks better in their own clothing than they do. Also, concerning this very topic I have always been amused at how ridiculous these other races look in our own European fashion, which all of them wear.

    December 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christopher

      Blacks wearing European style business suites are particularly ridiculous. Now that I think about it, it actually does offend me that they were our clothing.

      December 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • Steve

        In contrast, intelligent people are offended you have access to a computer.

        December 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erik

      I am a left-wing marxist and part-Native American, however this article is ridiculous. The girl looked hot in the outfit. Leave it at that!

      December 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Erik

        Mr. Erik, your comment is both informative and intelligent.

        December 2, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ryan M burr

    so a people who use to trade scalps and play Lacrosse with their enemies skulls is whining about pretty girls twirling around in jewelry and feathers? Pathetic. So call "native Americans" were a joke who deserved to be wipe out. You aren't native to this land anyway, there were Caucasian skulls that were found that were much older, a people who had migrated from Siberia and beyond. We were here first and we took back our land. You Indians murdered those first settlers and we came back thousands of years later and got revenge. God bless those white men who wiped out these enemies. Bless you.

    December 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I missed the history lesson where white settlers came here thousand of years ago and were wiped out by the native Americans that you say weren't here first, yet it was revenge that Europeans came back and killed everyone. I'm glad you cleared this up, I was confused until now.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • bryanjestis

      Apparently, you get your "real" news from Newsmax and other "sources" that aren't tainted by the "liberal media". Go find your hole to hide in, conspiracy nut.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    Wearing an Indian costume isn't offensive, what this opinion piece is is a way to sneer and show contempt towards white people without coming out and blatantly saying I HATE WHITE PEOPLE. These left wingers and other races look for any excuse to degrade and condemn whites even if it's something as stupid as this. She can wear whatever she wants, to hell with your hypersensitivity. Instead of whining and hating on this young white woman you should address the alcohol and poverty problems that plague your own race, we whites are not your baby sitters and you aren't going back to the days of buffalo hunting and tomahawk wielding, you were defeated, get over it. If you are offended by petty things like this too bad, grow some thicker skin.

    December 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johno

      Funny that you deigned to respond to this article when you talk of others growing some thicker skin. It clearly irked you just enough to spend the couple of brain cells required to pound out your pseudo-historical response. The whole point of this article is how people like you spend every waking moment imposing their world views and ways of life on others, and then get mad when they want to speak out against it.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
      • Johno

        Sorry, Crecymar. I'm not native. Not even close. In fact, I'm pure white bred. What I don't accept is people whose ignorance allows them to trumpet their own existence above those of all others, without considering the role that the actions of their ancestors played in leading to the outcomes of the present. I may not have many brain cells, but I do have ethics and morality, and I am at least willing to listen to facts and other points of view when people make legitimate greivances. And because I am fairly confident that I have spent more time looking at those facts and points of view than you for this particular grievance than you, I think a serious conversation is warranted when I come across reasonable interlocutors. Unfortunately for you and John, I assumed (hopefully wrongfully) that you are just the everyday sort of trolls who think that their own existence supersedes everyone else's.

        December 2, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. musings

    It would help if you had an ounce of interest in educating yourself. "Primitive" is irrelevant. The fact is that there were killings on both sides. Ever consider that period of American history between the Mayflower and the American Revolution? It's 150 years of strange reticence by schoolteachers and historians. As for "tomahawks" – I guess you never fell in love with Hopi way of life as I did in elementary school. Don't you care that native American agriculturalists have given crops that feed the world today, after they fed our founding fathers?

    December 2, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bloodghost

    As drastic as it sounds, the best thing the Federal Government can do is honor the treaties already established with the Native Governments. This wil cause many hardships for people, especially those in the Black Hills and those in the South Western USA. While it may be hard it is due time for the treaties to be honored. It may be a grand expectation that a government would live up to its word but the USA has the chance to regain honor and it is shamed everyday it does not.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. AlongTheWay

    No one is PURE anything. Anyone thinking they are "white" or whatever... need to step off and get over it. Stop thinking of yourselves as a race. Cherish your heritage but stop wanting everything so separate, special... whatever.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  14. korgri

    So are we going to next have to change the names of the 34 states that are derived from tribal names
    of the people who dwelt there?
    (the thirteen original colonies, Louisiana, California and Washington state are the exceptions)

    November 29, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • John Skookum

      There were tribes called "Nevada", "Colorado", "Florida", "Indiana", and "Montana" before white men came? You don't say!

      December 4, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. laststonecarver

    "The white people, who are trying to make us over into their image, they want us to be what they call "assimilated," bringing the Indians into the mainstream and destroying our own way of life and our own cultural patterns. They believe we should be contented like those whose concept of happiness is materialistic and greedy, which is very different from our way.
    We want freedom from the white man rather than to be integrated. We don't want any part of the establishment, we want to be free to raise our children in our religion, in our ways, to be able to hunt and fish and live in peace. We don't want power, we don't want to be congressmen, or bankers....we want to be ourselves. We want to have our heritage, because we are the owners of this land and because we belong here.
    The white man says, there is freedom and justice for all. We have had "freedom and justice," and that is why we have been almost exterminated. We shall not forget this."
    -From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians

    November 28, 2012 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      The only problem with this quote is that it probably has too many words for most of the posters here to bother reading.

      For my part, this sentiment is the foundation of my own (admittedly rudimentary) understanding of Native – non-Native relations. Thank you for posting it; I hope more readers will seriously consider what it means.

      November 29, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  16. laststonecarver

    Chief Joseph, known by his people as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder coming up over the land from the water):
    All men were made brothers. The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it. You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born free should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.

    I believe much trouble and blood would be saved if we opened our hearts more. I will tell you in my way how the Indian sees things. The white man has more words to tell you how they look to him, but is does not require many words to seek the truth.

    The earth and myself are of one mind.

    November 27, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • bhiljacker

      Well said. May you always walk in beauty.

      November 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
      • laststonecarver

        May your conscience weigh equal to Truth.

        November 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
      • laststonecarver

        It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting in your heart's longing.
        It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
        It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
        I want to know if you can sit in pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
        I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tip of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
        It doesn't interest me if the story you're telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
        I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
        I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence.
        I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"
        It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
        I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
        It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here.
        I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
        It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
        I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
        I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
        The Invitation
        By Oriah Mountain Dreamer
        (A Native American Elder)

        November 28, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  17. Jorge

    Next Halloween I'm going to dress like a drunken paddy mick with a bottle of whiskey in my hand, wearing a dingy sleeveless undershirt and smelling like stale cabbage, see if the "majority" likes it...

    November 27, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  18. Nebris

    This is Capitalist Exploitation, *not* 'cultural expropriation'. Stop blaming average folks to the crimes of The Corporate State.

    November 26, 2012 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  19. erik

    white people should just get over jesus being crucified and move on, it's just a myth anyways...he didn't die for my sins, I wasn't even alive then, so get over it

    November 25, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Juno

    Scott, if you would take some time to read about, learn about, the significance of the headdress - among other aspects of Native culture - maybe you'd change your mind.
    By the way, most Native people have a great sense of humor, including about themselves. Insulting such a symbol as a headdress, though, is another matter.

    November 25, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  21. Boojieboy

    I'm a German-American (third generation). Do I have the right to tell people to stop making fun of Nazis?

    November 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • bryan

      Let's face it, if I were an indean watching baseball....my favorite team would be the Atlanta braves....but if I were a native American, ignoring the outside world (living true to my old beliefs) ...then I wouldn't know it was even going on...I think these offended Indians should look in the mirror and pick their fights more carefully. I can think of more offensive things then naming football teams or designer cloths from our native American heritage

      December 2, 2012 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  22. Juno

    What astonishingly ignorant and hateful comments to a careful and rational essay.
    Just two points:
    1) It is well known (if not to some of the commenters) that the majority of rapists of Native women are not Native, but non-Natives who live on or near reservations.
    2) Why is it all right to make fun of someone else's culture, especially if those people are from a minority, one once literally hunted almost to extinction?
    Since we all consider ourselves Americans, shouldn't we learn something about the people who were here first, and then treat their descendants with respect? Don't we own them, along with each other, at least that?

    November 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kane

      Nope.

      November 24, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hippo

      I have respecrt for most cultures including natives, but I must stress that respect for their culture does not let me ignore their present actions. Some native groups in my area work with the comunity building stong ties and being a positive addition but the majority spend their time trying to find some apperance of slight or other form of con to use against any group in the hopes of raising a little funding. They destroy the reputation of natives as a whole while looking for every hand out they can find. Fortunately it's not all native groups that act that way but soo many of them do that it does not suprise me that native issues tend to polarize people against them.

      For example, recently, one group in the Canadian north managed to force the government to buy their entire community new homes because they failed to take care of the ones they had been given less than 20 years ago. In one interview and I quote "I have been waiting for 10 years for someone to come and patch my roof and it rotted to the point where it caved in, now I sleep in a wet and mouldy house" It was never in the agreement for the government to do home maintenance on these dwelling and the fact that these people would not even lift a finger to do basic maintenance and are telling the world that this is the governments fault should be ashamed of themselves.

      November 25, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
      • Arduous

        I can't speak to what goes on up in Canada. But down here in New Mexico, I have a little understanding of housing on Native lands.
        HUD funds a lot of housing on reservations (the reasons for this are varied but include treaty obligations by the US). It is not uncommon to see homes in disrepair with nice new cars in front of them.
        Why is this?
        Reservations are sovereign (also a history lesson for those predisposed to do a little research). They determine for themselves who can and can not own land within their boundaries. Because, often, only tribal citizens can own property there, the property values are very low (less buyers = lower price [see: supply and demand]). Banks will not lend against homes on reservation land because they have no right to foreclose.
        If an individual in a HUD home on tribal land wants to fix their roof, they will be UNABLE to go get a home equity loan to fund the $15,000 repair. BUT they can get a car loan for the same amount or more, because the car secures the loan.
        I don't know how things are in Canada, but down here, working class folks have a tough time coming up with $15K cash for anything.
        The REASON for high poverty rates on reservations is BECAUSE of the last 500 + years of genocide. Again, a little research can go a long way. So while you are busy not "ignor(ing) their present actions", keep in mind that the PRESENT is a continuation of the PAST.

        November 28, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
      • Johno

        I can speak from the Canadian perspective, being more informed on the Attiwapiskat crisis last year than Hippo. In fact, two branches of the Canadian government are responsible for providing funds for maintaining those homes, as these are responsibilities agreed to in the treaties, as well as enshrined in statute law. Unfortunately, due to bureaucratic incompetency (and corruption at the band management level), those funds were never disbursed appropriately. If the obligations of the treaties – or the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples – were fulfilled, it would be much harder to fault the Canadian government for its ineffectivenesss. But until that happens, be sure to lay your blame in AT LEAST equal amounts for the conditions in native communities. I will say that at least you didn't resort to blatant racist insults like some of the other posters, and at least sought an example. Unfortunately, the idea of the "lazy native" has a backstory that most Canadians (and evidently almost all Americans) don't know anything about.

        December 2, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      What the stats about non-native men attacking women isn’t telling you is that the non-native men committing the majority of these attacks are the dregs of any society be they white black or Hispanic but also that they are their mothers live in boyfriends who are hiding on the reservation to avoid law enforcement or paying child support on their many children sired where they come from. Pedophiles find a way to get invited in the door and when one gets busted it comes out that the mother knew but didn’t want to the boyfriend’s money to go away. When these activists start screaming about non-native men getting away with crimes what they aren’t saying is that they are getting away because it’s not reported or the mother calls their children liars.

      November 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP Michaels

      " It is well known ... that the majority of rapists of Native women are not Native, but non-Natives who live on or near reservations."

      Really? That's an interesting statement, where would one find verification of that?

      December 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Bpb

    Oh come on. Everyone in Massachusetts voted for Elizabeth Warren. That's celebrating Native American month, right?

    November 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Average Joe

    Alas...you've hit upon the problem. Like most members of the political correctness police, she is all about umbrage rather than instruction. If white people ever DID stop dressing up as Indians Ms. Monet would be the loneliest, saddest Indian around. I don't think she'd know what to do with herself if she didn't have a bogeyman to whine about.

    November 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You had to add your 2 cent Average Joe... The man eloquently made a comment about the author's article and you had to translate it to a lower level so that men and women like you could understand. Sad!

      November 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Brent Snavely

    A great Op piece, and an interesting series of comments from a fair number of individuals who seem unable to recognize their "Whiteness"...

    November 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Stiks

    Jenni Monet – It is Native Americans, Not American Indians, the former were here before Amerigo or Columbus, the latter is from INDIA.

    November 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stiks

      if you cant even get that much right then your opinion article is not worth a read

      November 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • Seer

        "Native American," though still widely used, is beginning to be seen more and more as an awkward, too-politically-correct term by many American Indians, whereas the term "American Indian" has been gaining some traction at the same time (in the same way that "African American" is steadily losing ground in favor of "Black"). Most people with a bit of education in the area consider the two terms to be interchangeable at the very least. The term you're looking for is "Indian-American," which is the standard format for referring to people with a heritage that can be traced back to a specific country (in the same vein as French-American or Chinese-American). "American Indian" is not the same term at all.

        If you can't even understand that distinction, then I'd say your comments aren't worth a read.

        November 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • Steve

        How do you say ouch in American Indian Stiks? You just got schooled by Seer... That will teach you to reply to your own post loll

        November 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Tom

    I believe this article encapsulates everything that is obnoxious and misguided about being politically correct in America.

    November 24, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • obamaplace

      My thoughts exactly

      November 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Average Joe

      Amen.

      November 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      I believe your response encapsulates everything that is obnoxious and misguided about confusing "political correctness" with basic good manners.

      November 25, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • WoHu

        Ah yes, very pleasant manners on your part.

        November 27, 2012 at 2:06 am | Report abuse |
      • Denver_mike

        Your endurance is outragous

        November 27, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Darren

    First off I am torn. I am a card carrying Native American who thinks that Native Americans should not be so sensitive. I do understand why. They did get the shaft and they have good memory of that. I am just as much white as I am Indian and I am not bothered by it all. The one thing I am bothered by is these comment about the worhtless land the Indians were moved to. If you re talking about Oklahoma you havent been here or you seen the worst part of it. We have oil and natural gas. We have an inland port to the gulf. We have a very lovely state. Lakes and rivers. I could go on and on. You get the picture.

    November 24, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Johno

      Darren, I think Steve's comments were a bit superlative. But it is true that when you consider the full extent of the lands that natives might have had, the current plots don't seem quite as fulfilling. It's not a question of the beauty of the land, or the resources on them, but of being confined to a specific place (out of sight, out of mind), decided out of a fundamental disrespect for the many cultures who were dispossessed, and maintained because of the cowardice of present-day politicians and citizens to do anything about those decisions of the past. For better or worse, colonialism isn't going away. What everybody SHOULD want is to deal with its legacy maturely and respectfully. What we end up with is racism of the lowest common denominator.

      December 2, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Brad Ghostly

    I agree, People are disrespecting too many cultures by dressing up. I am ashamed every year as I see little girls dressed up as princesses. It is completely and utterly disrespectful to real royal. The monarchy has a rich and diverse history and to see these cheaply made princess costumes making a mockery of the monarchy irks me to no end. And to the parents who allow their children to dress as princesses do they have no shame?

    November 24, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  30. tratt

    Cowboys aren't offended when people dress up like cowboys. I am not offended when people dress up like pilgrims. It's just NOT offensive, unless you are TRYING to be offended. Plus, who says you can't be offended?

    November 24, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I agree with the cowboy and pilgrim thing but who says you can't be offended? You're joking right? Why would you purposely offend someone you don't know? Why would you go out of your way to hurt someone you've never met? Are you insane tratt? Do you go to the food court at the mall and just sit next to strangers and eat off their plates, if you do, then yeah it's ok, your question makes a lot of sense.

      November 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Custer

    The only thing they are known for at all now is Casino owners and yes like the other person wrote lending money at huge rates. Most people don't have a clue about indians and reservations etc. They don't want teams named after them, Chiefs, Warriors, Braves seem like strong positive names. I can understand Redskins being offensive. Notre Dame "fighting Irish", huge stereotype but don't see any Irish wanting to change it, they love it. No bad images or movie depictions etc. Fine then we won't hear or see anything so how does that help? Can't dress up like an indian wah wah wah, fine I will go as John Wayne. Pale face haveum heepum big problems woo woo woo. Move on!

    November 24, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      Do not have any indian mascots, do not dress as indians, do not make any movies about indians.... What next? Remove them from the history books?

      November 24, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  32. russ

    Exactly which reservations are you speaking off with all your vast knowledge? And exactly where are those reservations located? Bet you it's not in a location you would want to live. As with most ethnic groups they are offended at the casual way in which others utilize their culture or make generic references to them as a whole. How is it any different that Native Americans find it offensive when people dress up in their clothing to portray themselves a certain way to someone of another ethnic group doing the same thing? How many times have blacks complained about how whites act and vise versa. Ethnic groups have a right to be heard.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Claude Reginald Rivers

      Good points.

      November 24, 2012 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
  33. Desert Dweller

    Gotta go along with the other posters here. The American Indian population needs to look inward and fix it's problems at the tribal level, before going after the rest of the United States population for "no respect". My opinion of Indians when I think of them, is of alcoholism, poverty, shoddy living conditions etc. If your women have a problem with rape and domestic assault, then work on educating your males. This isn't an off the reservation problem; at least not that I'm aware of. Complaining about Victoria's Secrets, and the Washington Redskins appears petty compared to your real problems and people get tired of hearing about it.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Arduous

      Really?
      Lets see, all those problems you list out are the RESULT OF 500 YEARS OF GENOCIDE.
      Sorry, but the Indigenous did NOT wage genocide against themselves.
      Yes, we all need to address our problems at home. But dang Desert, it sure is hard to do your laundry when someone is repeatedly kicking you in the stomach.

      November 28, 2012 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  34. John

    Why? So What?

    November 24, 2012 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  35. Steve

    I made it through 5 comments before I had to stop. Perhaps some of you should brush up on history a bit, not too long ago we damn near wiped this culture off the map, took their land and shoved what's left onto hunks of worthless property, then continued to beat them into the ground. If they seem a little sensitive, perhaps some understanding would be in order. What is the matter with you people?

    November 24, 2012 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      We? Who is this "we" you speak of?

      November 24, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve

        Us white folk Fred. Perhaps you missed it, there was an indian war a few generations ago.

        November 24, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
      • Fred

        Sorry, but that wasnt me..

        November 24, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
      • Steve

        lol. No it wasn't. Go back to Call of Duty, this is a little too much for you.

        November 24, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • johnnyb

      We get it, we did them very wrong – is complaining about the use of headdress really the crux of the argument? Show me a tribal area not a parody of itself, hocking cheap headdresses and such jewelry and then come back and tell the group what is so wrong with employing these powerful images in our collective culture. If they want to still be upset, I don't blame them, just don't expect me to validate these petty attention grabs.
      BTW- why would Ms Monet use such a full body shot while condemning female exploitation? Answer: She is just another Sharpton, at racism profiteer.

      November 24, 2012 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
      • Kathy

        Johnnyb, you bring up interesting points, even if I don't agree with them. Complaining about a headdress may not be the crux of the problem, but it may illustrate a central aspect of the problem, if that makes any sense. As for the tribal areas parodying themselves, check out laststonecarver's comments. Still, I think you're perfectly justified in refusing "to validate these petty attention grabs" – when that's what they are. I suspect among the sincere opponents to the appropriation of indigenous images, there are some attention-grabbers. But please don't assume that everyone who has a problem with this kind of imagery is in the latter group. Finally, though I won't make any conclusions about the author's motives, you do raise a good question about the placement of the photo next to the byline of this article.

        Again, even though I don't necessarily agree with your conclusions, I do think you make good points that add to the discussion more than a lot of the other posters' comments.

        November 29, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Et tu

      Steve, here's your opportunity to get Senator-elect (D-MA) Elizabeth Warren involved. Consumers are her "passion," -well, until she opted for elective office – and this segment of our consumer/-ing population, with which she has identified for several decades, demands attention from those of her standing, with her heritage. We expect her support. Will you ?

      December 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Bruce

    I am Cherokee Indian of Oklahoma.... yes I said Indian, and I teach my children the same.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • LoisLane

      I know some people who insist on being called American Indians and not Native Americans. They tell me Native Americans can include Inuits, Samoans, and Pacific Islanders.

      December 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  37. trollol

    Yea, about the 'you don't understand us' part. How about you stop making your beliefs so sacred. The world around you is changing fast and your traditions will die out sooner or later. Embrace the inevitable and just live a happy life and stop stressing yourself out over something so silly.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  38. trevor

    The article also clearly shows that the Native Americans need to work on themselves before they criticize the rest of the country.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  39. johnnyb

    If Ms Monet wants to make real change then propose real change, like revoking sovereignty rules that allow the worst among their people to continue to atrophy the culture under the guise of sovereignty. I implore you to search for an article from the California Bar discussing the uphill battle of fighting domestic violence with Native American women. I implore you also to look at the rates of a Cheyenne company called Western Sky. This is the real problem Ms. Monet, your people have been turned over to thugs and there is little the outsider culture can do to prevent it.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  40. mro

    "Native Americans" are just being downright stupid. So is this article. Their attack at these folks wearing feathers has been the turn-off... So let our tribes just die from obscurity. Don't come calling when this new generation does not vote squat for funding for your ventures because they haven't a clue who you are. Further – the REAL iconic view of our brothers these days is rolling dice and drinking in the gaming dens – as that is the only current productive thing the reservations do. So are you going to start getting upset if someone dresses as a high roller next?

    November 24, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  41. Susan

    The "get over it part" essentially means the Europeans, Africans, Asians, and others who settled in the US are here for good. No ones leaving – period. Another good phrase that should be taken to heart is "pick your battles". Why complain over minor offenses such as wearing a headress as part of a models outift? Much like the bruhaha over showing cartoon images of the profit Mohamed – most Americans don't understand or "get" what this means to many Native Americans. In the interests of being "PC" apologies may be extended – but again the majority of Americans aren't feeling it. It would be more beneficiall for Native Americans to channel their energy towards improving broader issues such as poverty, health, and gaining a larger voice in the political arena. Insisting that popular culture refrain from borrowing from the Native American (be it clothing, ceremonial drums, school mascots, etc etc) just works to further erase the cultures and traditions of pre-Columbus America from the minds of 97.1 percent of the US population.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:07 am | Report abuse |
    • russ

      Naitive Americans tried that with the Washington Redskins and it did not work.

      November 24, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
      • Joe Wagner

        Exactly can you imagine if another culture was marginalized by a team that plays in the nations capital!

        November 24, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  42. Bob

    I'd be O.K. with telling them to get over it if we hadn't completely destroyed their culture and put them in concentration ca...uhh...reservations.

    I'm not big on political correctness but people need to learn to show a little respect for other cultures and races. I'd like to think we've progressed beyond black face.

    November 24, 2012 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  43. C Denning

    OK for Liz Warren to play indian for personal gain!!

    November 24, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe Wagner

      According to whom?

      November 24, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  44. Dennis

    Don't forget to have all the politically correct hypocrites in Washington DC cheer for the Redskins.

    November 24, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  45. bb

    And let's not forget about the cowboys. It is so offensive to real cowboys for us to ever dress as a real one. And don't get me started about witches...

    November 24, 2012 at 7:45 am | Report abuse |
  46. bb

    So many people here are saying (regarding Native Americans or slavery) "It was in the past, get over it and move on"
    These are probably the same people who spout "NEVER forget 911" and will hate muslims for generations to come.
    Or think of it this way, suppose America was conquered my muslims, and I said to you "eh, get over it, just assimilate into their culture and move on already!!" How many generations would it take for your family to "just get over it"? Yah it's suddenly different when it is YOU and YOUR people being victimized. While you're at it, why don't you tell the Jews to "just get over it" regarding the holocaust.

    November 24, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
  47. RV

    I wish all native American women look as good as Karlie Kloss wearing the headdress, and I am a native American.

    November 24, 2012 at 7:20 am | Report abuse |
  48. Lil

    The only people who don't get offended every time somebody opens their mouth or puts on the wrong outfit are white people. Seems you can make fun of, imitate, mock, whatever you want to do to white people and we just don't get offended. We don't care. Why? Because it's a waste of time and a display of paranoia and actually quite immature and stupid. I understand about slaves, Holocaust victims, and all the people who get offended. Trouble with that is . . . it's over. Now is now. You can't change it. Get over it. Laugh at ME! I'm just white! I don't care. Have fun. Let me know if you say anything funny about me. I'll laugh with you. If you say ugly things, it won't hurt. I don't care. You can't hurt me with words and/or outfits or pretending to be me. I actually grew up.

    November 24, 2012 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |
  49. Karl

    It's incredibly sad and shameful how Native Americans were forced into living on reservations, which might as well be called "ghettoes". And like residents of any ghetto, they have worse living conditions, poorer education systems, few good-paying job opportunities, and in general, fewer opportunities for advancement, than the rest of us. Only rarely will individuals manage to escape such poverty and become successful in the context of the greater society. And if they do, it will only be by tremendous effort on their part, with little help, and fighting cultural biases and stereotypes and outright racism at every step.

    The major difference between Native Americans and other minorities is, their reservations are typically in rural areas, and their homes sometimes extremely isolated. This only makes it more difficult for them to find the support and opportunities they need to improve their lives.

    November 24, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  50. Darth Mortis

    Everyone telling MY people to stop whining, go tell a Holocaust survivor to stop whining. The differences between what you white, illegal aliens did to us and what the Nazis did to the Jews ate just these;
    1) fewer Indians survived than German Jews survived the holocaust
    2) the Nazis never burned Jewish women and children alive, although both sides are equally guilty of raping women and children before killing them
    3) no on tells a Jew to get over the holocaust.
    ;

    November 24, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  51. Tim

    It is mind boggling how such stupidity finds it's voice here on CNN.

    November 24, 2012 at 6:18 am | Report abuse |
  52. ScottM

    So, I'm not Native American, so I don't understand their perspective, but being of Scottish descent, I wouldn't be the least bit offended if Victoria's Secret had a model dressed up in some modification of traditional highland garb. In fact, that'd be a heck of a lot better than Mel Gibson with his face painted blue as William Wallace.

    November 24, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • joderito

      I understand what you are saying, but true respect means respecting others means listening to what they have to say and not making decisions for them on what is offensive.

      Different groups have the right to decide what is offensive to them in regarding their own culture, and respecting others involves respecting these opinions. I once called someone an American Indian and they told me they preferred Native American. IT didn't matter that I was a cultural anthropologist that had worked for years with another group in another part of the country, I was accustomed to using the word American Indian because the tribe more local to me disliked the word Native American. The person who asked me to use Native American was not from the same tribe, had different opinions and reasons for those opinions, came from an entirely different culture with different stories and traditions ,from another region of the country...all I had to do was listen, make a decision to be respectful, and change what I was saying. Easy enough. And even if it was not easy, it would have been worth the effort.

      November 24, 2012 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Laerrus

      Leave Mel Gibson out of this!

      November 24, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
    • mark

      yes nothing like an ultra mini pleated skirt and a see thru tartan

      November 24, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
  53. TheLostSurveyor

    Oh get over it already. I'm Native American and so is my wife. We could care less about this issue. I have a friend who said something I thought was both hilarious and insightful. He said he couldn't understand "some white people's obsession with our garbage."

    November 24, 2012 at 5:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      A sense of humor goes a long way...in the Marine Corps one of the guys in my unit was Navajo. We were having a heck of a time getting a computer working. I left for lunch and when I came back he had it working. I asked him how the heck he got it to work, and he said very seriously "Old Indian Trick". I almost wet myself.

      November 24, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
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