1. The warbonnet is a sacred religious item that a male plains native has earned. Each eagle feather represents an act of bravery or kindness. A man would earn an eagle feather when he has done something for his people, his tribe. This is a way to symbolize an honorable man without the use of words. It is a great honor.
— I have also read and was informed of one tribe (possibly more) also having women wear the warbonnet; again, after they had earned it.
Very few, specific plains tribes used and practice the use of the warbonnet. Although very few Native Americans wear warbonnets Hollywood and the Media has used the warbonnet as the stereotyped accessory to represent all and any Native Americans.
This means: wearing a warbonnet is attempting to dress up like a Native American.
2. It is not okay to steal religious items for the sake of cute fashion.
3. A hipster/non-native person wearing a fake warbonnet is throwing away the cultural meaning of the warbonnet. There is no respect in throwing away the cultural meaning.
4. Many hipsters tag their racist photos as native american, or indian. There are hundreds of native tribes, very few of which used warbonnets. Hipsters who wear the warbonnets are perpetuating the stereotype that all native peoples wear warbonnets. The misuse of the warbonnet promotes racist stereotypes.
5. Wearing a costume to depict an entire race is racist. There is no “one-look” that fits all native peoples. When people wear a costume to depict a race they are reducing that race into something comical. When a race is seen as something comical oppression towards that race is inevitable. Ex. In Nazi Germany, just before the Holocaust, German newspapers and magazines posted drawings depicting Jewish people as subhuman. When a race is seen as something comical or subhuman oppression towards that group is inevitable.
6. The misuse of the warbonnet does not honor us, or show respect. In fact, by wearing “Native American costumes” you are showing disrespect for our people and mocking our history of genocide, rape, assimilation, removal, displacement, and oppression.
7. Many hipsters who wear the warbonnet are white (Caucasian). White people, whether they want to or not, are the oppressors of people of color. They are the ones who benefit from our oppression. And who are the people who committed genocide, rape, assimilation, removal, and displacement against us? White European Americans. When you wear one, whether your ancestors committed these crimes or not, it appears to be a greater slap in the face. “Look we killed the majority of your people and stole your home… btw I stole your headdress too! LOL” When a white person cultural appropriates a culture that is not their own it promotes White Supremacy.
8. Many of the hipsters who wear warbonnets are female. When women dress up in “Native American costumes” they are perpetuating the fetishization of Native women. 1 in 3 Native women will be raped and/or experience sexual assault, 85% of those rapes will be performed by non-natives. These costumes depict native women as primitive sex objects.
9. Many of the blogs/tumblrs/etc will post non-natives wearing fake warbonnets and will not post any photos of real Native American people. There are Native American models/actors/artists/etc that could be represented in your blogs. Myself and a few other Native peoples on tumblr have been given the excuse; “we dressed up as ‘Indians’ because we love them and totally respect them. So it’s not racist!” Wrong. Intent is irrelevant. Whether you stereotyped Native American “positively” or negatively is still stereotyping, a.k.a racist. I have seen these blogs claim to “love” and “respect” Native Americans yet they have no photos of any Native American people on their blogs. These appropriators do not love Native Americans; they love seeing White people pretend to be oh so “ethereal” and “spiritual”.
10. Wearing a costume warbonnet, or any other “Native American” stereotyped costume does not make you look spiritual, ethereal, unique, or “savage”; it only makes you look racist and disrespectful.
11. Hopefully you will agree that Native Americans are MORE important than your desire to look “spiritual”/”ethereal”.
12. We should also keep in mind that Native Americans, and PoC in America, have been oppressed by white people and forced (yes forced!) into assimilation. Some Native Americans were put into schools, that tortured them, and forced them to change their appearances, never speak their languages and learn English, etc. Many Native people were not free (or safe) to practice their own cultures, religions, and languages; so to see white people wearing cheap copies of our cultural clothing it adds to the insult. We were not/are not allowed to practice our culture but you can steal it? No. Not okay.
here is a website that goes into greater detail: