Arts & Entertainment

Celeste Pedri: Indian artists face appropriation questions too





"Like many of us in Indian country, I caught the latest Victoria’s Secret atrocity that followed closely on the heels of Gwen Stefani’s big blunder. I’d like to move the conversation away from this dominant issue of cultural misappropriation to broaden our understanding of the various ways in which these images and events can be experienced by different audiences. So many individuals from many different walks of life are consuming these pictures, now circulating widely. But pictures don’t just simply present another example of cultural misappropriation for us to swallow. They evoke.

Art, whether it be fashion, performance or photography, is a tool used by an individual or group of individuals who wish to justify, challenge, and redefine their existence in various social categories. I believe the anger that is present among many American Indians is connected to their ongoing plight to talk back and work against past and recent injustices committed toward their people. People who feel an intense obligation or responsibility to challenge stereotypes. People whose experience of the Karlie Kloss in the headdress or the Gwen Stefani video cannot be separated from their historical experience or their cultural traditions and understandings. Having said this, as an Ojibwe woman I can say that if a model walked out on the runway with a jingle dress converted to a skimpy bikini, I would probably be pissed off. However, as an Indian woman who loves to dance, perform, bead, sew—a woman who loves to exercise her creative spirit and is definitely interested in incorporating old Ojibwe styles and designs into my work—these images make me ask myself how far I can and should go."

Get the Story:
Celeste Pedri: Cultural Appropriation: More Than Meets the Eye (Indian Country Today 11/15)

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