Today in one of my classes, I saw someone dressed as an Indian. I felt it was so coincidental- given the discussion in class last night. It was very offensive to me, as I feel that wearing a costumethat represents a group of people is making light of them and their culture. It certainty doesn’t show any form of respect.
I think that with the attempts at Americanization of Native Americans throughout history has put their culture into silence, allowing us to assume gross stereotypes and act as if Native American’s haven’t moved out of the past. Since they aren’t acknowledged, it’s permissible to make them into caricatures and costumes. We can “dress up” as them since they don’t really exist anymore, so our society says.
We try to push Native Americans into invisibility in a lot of other ways too. We pretend like they aren’t in existence any more and were only around during the early days of America. We don’t learn about their cultures, we don’t know the names of tribes. We depict them in untrue and westernized ways in movies. We use them as mascots for our sports teams.
Essentially, Native Americans don’t matter to us. Sure, they may only make up 1% of the US population, but that is still 3 million people! That is no small number. We ignore their minoritization, don’t talk about them when we speak of racism. We oppress them by acting as if we can rewrite their history and that they were just in our way when we decided to steal their land, their homes.
I think all of this speaks to how we as a culture have pushed aside Native Americans. We pretend like we respect them, but we really don’t. At the very least, we could stop using them as mascots for our sports teams. And not act like it’s such an inconvenience.