Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Chief Motel--Native American Stereotypes

Plains Indian headdress in a neon sign.
Photo by Matthew Bamberg
Back in the day stereotypes against many different groups existed. Not a pretty era, even though its sign design and use of neon is epic, it often includes unfortunate representations of different cultural groups.

One can't ignore the stereotypes that existed back then, along with those that remain.

After all, depictions of Native Americans in headdress might be offensive to some. Many American tribes' traditions stem from symbols such as this, as some Native Americans do wear headdress, especially at celebrations like pow-wows. Native American symbols that could be harmful stereotypes belong in museums as their best use is to educate Americans about their achievements and struggles.

The reason signs like this can be offensive lies within the term cultural appropriation, which is defined as "borrowing from someone else's culture without their permission and without acknowledgement to the victim culture's past." After all, the Native American headdress is akin to a "medal of honor," as Native American chiefs are highly respected individuals in these communities.

Today, it's become evident that you can't take advantage of other cultural symbols and take them on as your own at the expense of being insulting to the people of the culture.

More cultural appropriation can be found in my post about the Sambo's controversy.

You can view my signs and other photographs at Fine Art America

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