Don’t Make Me Rip Those Chicken Feathers Off You by Dana Lone HillTweet
When I look at pictures of my grandmothers from back in their hey day I feel proud. They were all strong women. You could see it in their eyes. I have one picture in particular of my Great, Great Grandma Molly and her daughters, Great Grandmothers Julie and Louise (married names). In the picture they are tired; hands bandaged and holding blades. They were “ga bla-ing” meat, cutting it thin and spreading it out to dry. The sheets of meat are hanging behind them. As much as the boarding school tried to colonize them, they still carried this tradition with them. A tradition I didn’t learn until I was in my 30’s. However I did learn to make wasna (dried meat and chokecherries) at a young age from my Grandma Fanny. Grandma Fanny ran new moon inipi (sweat ceremony) for women.
So I grew up surrounded by women who knew the songs and traditions from our past. All my moms friends and cousins were my tunwin (aunts). My tunwin Joyce would always wi’caglata at the drum. Standing behind the singers and echoing, or singing behind them. She probably doesn’t even know how many little girls she taught the songs to- but being around these strong Lakota women taught me and my friends how to be and act around each other. Of course, we all grew up and live separately now but I am sure they remember those days under the new moon at Grandma Fanny’s sweats when the women gathered and sang the songs into the night.
So when I see a hipster dressed as a over-sexualized, skanky, little wannabe in a teeny, tiny fake buckskin dress and purple chicken feathers in her hair that are supposed to represent a head dress that only men wear, I want to rip the chicken feathers off her head and give her a piece of my mind.
With Halloween coming up, this seems to be a popular costume. The main claim that “this is not racist” makes me furious.
First off, the excuse that people are cowboys for Halloween does not validate this at all. A cowboy is not a race of people. A settler is not a race of people. To totally excuse the fact that you are mocking and making fun of every woman I have ever looked up to in my life is total disrespect. Nobody says, “Oh, I’m going to be a white person for Halloween, or I’m going to be a black person, or I’m going to be a Jew.” If someone did this it would be silly, shocking, and people would be pissed.
So how can hipsters totally disregard us as a people and dress like us in fake feathers, plastic beads, and hooker length dresses and say we are supposed to be honored they chose to represent us?
The Native women in my life, related or not- friends and relatives- are artists, writers, doctors, lawyers, tribal workers, counselors, tribal chairpersons, directors, photographers, blue collar workers, mothers, sisters; and we are proud of being Native.
Don’t even try to take away everything we represent with your idea of who we are with a few chicken feathers. You obviously don’t know the wrath of a real Indian woman.