Canadian music festival bans Native American headdresses

Canadian music festival bans Native American headdresses

A Tribe Called Red photo by Pat Bolduc
A Tribe Called Red photo by Pat Bolduc

Because apparently nobody was paying attention to the Flaming Lips story or that time Pharrell apologized for wearing a Native American headdress on the cover of Elle magazine, it has become necessary for music festivals to ask attendees to please stop being insensitive assholes and appropriating other people’s cultures. Jezebel reports that the Bass Coast festival, which takes place from August 1 to 4 in British Columbia, has issued a ban on wearing Native American headdresses (a.k.a. war bonnets). The festival’s FAQ states:

We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets. They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated. Bass Coast Festival takes place on indigenous land and we respect the dignity of aboriginal people. We have consulted with aboriginal people in British Columbia on this issue and we feel our policy aligns with their views and wishes regarding the subject. Their opinion is what matters to us.

One of the festival headliners, A Tribe Called Red, has been particularly vocal about cultural appropriation, and the group’s Ian Campeau gave an interview last year to Huffington Post that goes into some of the reasons why wearing war bonnets is offensive to First Nations and Native Americans. For one thing:

It’s creating a false idea of what it means to be Indigenous today. It’s “Pan-Indianism”. It’s robbing the First Nations of their nationhoods and nationality. It’s making us all “Indian” instead of recognizing me as an Anishnabe or Ojibway. I’m NOT an “Indian”. I’m of the Anishnabe Nation.

To recap: If you want to get high out of your mind and dance half-naked in the middle of the field to a group called Vinyl Ritchie, fine. Just leave the headdress at home.

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