Avoiding cultural appropriation for Halloween costumes

Local News

As Halloween approaches, a treat we all get to enjoy is picking out a costume.

One frightful choice this season is cultural appropriation, which is when someone adopts elements of a culture that is not their own without having the proper understanding of and respect for the culture.

“Indian maiden” or “squaw” costumes support the stereotype that native women are promiscuous while “warrior” or “chief” with “war paint” promotes stereotypes of “savage warriors,” according to Eric Hemenway of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Department of Repatriation, Archives, and Records.

As native populations declined in the 20th century, a lack of diversity created the idea that “all Indians are same” in large parts of American society. This is why most native costumes are strikingly similar even though tribe cultures are distinct.

Hemenway says when members of the dominant culture wear feathers and paint as part of a Halloween costume, it dilutes the sacredness of these elements.

These costumes take elements of a culture and reduce them to fashion accessories.

While Halloween is a chance to be someone or something else for a night, our choices may support negative stereotypes and cause harm to different cultures adds Hemenway.

Learn more about Halloween Costume Do’s and Don’ts as well as get more information about cultural appropriation from Eric Hemenway, by clicking here.

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