(Lisa Charleyboy, founder of Urban Native Magazine)
Happy Indigenous People's Day!
Instead of Columbus Day, Seattle and Minneapolis are celebrating Indigenous People's Day as a way of recognizing the cultural contributions of the people who were already living in America when Columbus “discovered” it.
What's this have to do with fashion blogging? Well, the fashion industry has long ignored the implications appropriating indigenous cultures in runway collections. Designers such as Isabel Marant, Proenza Schouler and retailers like Urban Outfitters are among the high-profile appropriators in the industry. Earlier this year, Pharrell caught heat for wearing a headdress, even though he claimed to be “part Native American.” The Washington Redskins Name Controversy is coming to a head this year (since you know, “redskins” is a racially charged word.)
The thing is, even though controversies keep coming up, hipsters still wear headdresses. Isabel Marant keeps using Navajo motifs in her collections (does anyone know if she collaborates with Navajo designers?) There is a right way and a wrong way to incorporate Native American design in your outfits, and you might mean well, but you could be offending people.
While not all Native Americans who blog, necessarily blog about being Native American (I am a member of the Squaxin Island tribe), there are a few blogs that address issues in popular culture and design surrounding the community. Personally, I find (all) cultural writing fascinating, and these three websites continue to articulate how Native Americans are portrayed today.
This four-year-old blog written by Dr. Adrienne Keene examines current events as they pertain to Native Americans. Subjects such as headdress wearing, the Redskins, Native Americans in film, and even scrutinization over skin color. This blog is a great way to delve into visual cultural theory from the Native perspective.
If you're thinking Native Americans are just hanging around frozen in time wearing head dressed and living in teepees… think again. Co-founded by Lisa Charleyboy, based in Toronto, Urban Native Magazine is a site dedicated to “Pop-Culture with an Indigenous Twist” the site features fashion designers, entertainers, artists and entrepreneurs.
Beyond Buckskin is a fashion blog and boutique featuring Native American designers. Dr. Jessica Metcalfe founded the site in 2009, and boutique in 2012 after her readers kept asking “where can I buy that?” She also gives tips on the right way to appropriate Native designs in your wardrobe and shares the latest designers to know about. The shop is also pretty great.
Do you read Native American fashion blogs? Are you a Native American blogger? Do share!