Miami Pub Crawl Encourages Drinkers to Dress Up Like Native Americans for Thanksgiving
This Wednesday, Miami pub crawl organizing group Keep Crawling will run a Thanksgiving Costume Pub Crawl. Dressing in costume isn't required, but participants are encouraged to come as either a Pilgrim or Native American.
jjwainwright/Flickr Creative Commons No. Just no.
While most of the jokes one could make about dressing as a Pilgrim might include cracks about looking dowdy, dressing as a Native American is tremendously more problematic. It's also offensive.
To say Thanksgiving is a touchy time to mockingly dress up like a Native is an understatement. Conventional American lore states that Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the Pilgrims surviving their first winter in America with help from the Wampanoag tribe. However, this narrative is more of a tall tale that romanticizes the harsh effects of colonization, and overlooks the mistreatment of Natives that followed: shady political treaties, forced and often violent removal of tribes from their lands, and the spread of misinformation about "savages."
That misinformation continues today, in the form of cultural appropriation. In 2012, Urban Outfitters was sent a cease and desist letter by the Navajo Nation for marketing a new "Navajo" line of tribal-patterned clothes and products despite the patterns not being authentic Navajo prints. This kind of marketing violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act as well as Navajo beliefs about modesty (a Navajo Hipster Panty was one of the products for sale). Urban Outfitters' Navajo hip flask also was in direct contrast to the nation's reservation-wide ban on alcohol.
The Washington Redskins NFL team is facing pressure to change their name, which is a racial slur against Natives. It's been the team name since 1933. According to the Wrap, 76 journalists and media outlets have pledged to no longer use the term. President Obama himself has stated that it would be in the best interest for the team to change its name. However, the team's owner, Dan Snyder, is a staunch supporter of the name.
They're just one of several teams facing scrutiny. Mascots like the one for the Cleveland Indians have been labeled as stereotypical, racist and demeaning.