Day 3 at Anime North 2011. I wanted to let lose my Hipster side, and let it run free with Steampunk. Hipster+Steampunk= Native American Steampunk. I am just that awesome.
UGH. Please don’t do this to me. I love Cons. I love Steampunk. I AM Native American. Don’t use “hipster” as a reason to cosplay culture appropriation. Just.. don’t.
First thought: can’t wait to see what Moniquill has to say about this, haha.
The best part is that Native + Steampunk doesn’t have to suck and be disrespectful. I guess she wanted to err on the side of crappy, tho?
What Moniquill has to say about this:
No, just no. Fullstop no.
I want to find this person and shake them SO SO SO SO MUCH. And then sit them down in a clockwork-orange type rig and make them view all of this:
Beyond Victoriana #50Overcoming the Noble Savage & the Sexy Squaw: Native Steampunk–Guest Blog by Monique Poirier
In fact, just all of: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/cultural+appropriation
This was posted on my Tumblr;
I would like to thank everyone who commented on my Native American Steampunk. Especially those who commented ‘negatively’, particularly Monoquilliloquies. (I read all your links!)
First off, I want everyone to know, I did not wear this outfit to cause disrespect to anyone. Especially to those who are Native American. I can assure you your comments are helpful to me, as I would like to wear a better Native American Steampunk costume someday.
(I would like to apologize for the ‘Hipster’ comment, I felt if I said it I wouldn’t be judged on my ignorance. I was mystaken.)
My family is from Ireland, right off the boat. Growing up as a child in a predominately Native community, I was the only fully white kid in my class. Grade 6 we had native studies, when asked if anyone was native; I was the only one who didn’t raise my hand.
And yet with all of this beautiful culture surrounding me I was unable to become appart of it, as I felt I might offend. Which, as you can see, I have clearly done.
If you have any insite on how I can go about this; please let me know.
For that past 5 years I have been attending my home town’s Pow Wow (you might have seen my photographs from this years), I attend them alone, and don’t know anyone who could help me dress/participate in these events. I only go as a spectator and enjoy the rich culture and wonderful environment that these Pow Wows bring.
If someone would be willing to give me some pointers, I would appreciate it.
Thank you so much,
Katie McNeill (ijustforgot)
I’m glad that you’re willing to sit and listen when you’re told that what you did was not ok, but I just want to point out that the following gave me serious pause:
For that past 5 years I have been attending my home town’s Pow Wow (you might have seen my photographs from this years), I attend them alone, and don’t know anyone who could help me dress/participate in these events…If you have any insite on how I can go about this; please let me know.
These events -are not for you-.
You are not native. Even if you grew up in a predominantly NDN area. Even if you have peripherally participated in NDN culture(s) through immersion. You are still not NDN. You cannot be a part of NDN culture, because it is not yours. It is not who you are. Ethnicity isn’t something you can convert to.
You can attend powwows that are open to the public, and enjoy the food and the music and the dancers and the vendors; you can purchase native-made arts and crafts to use, display in your home, wear, whatever - we hugely appreciate it when you do because many of us make or augment our livelihoods in this way. Please, watch and participate and enjoy when you’re invited to do so.
But that’s all.
Because you are not NDN.
One of the greatest disservices that white privilege does to -everyone- is that people who have white privilege are led to believe that everything in the world is theirs to have.
This is not the case.
You’re looking for pointers on how to…what, exactly? How to appropriate better?
My advice: Just don’t.
No, really. Just don’t do it.
If you want to dress as a character who wears NDN attire, be prepared to have a backstory that explains why you, a white person, are wearing it (please not ‘My character was adopted into X tribe!’ either as a child or later in life or through marriage when they fell in love with a Badass Native/Chief’s Beautiful Daughter - that is the most overplayed Mighty Whitey bullshit fantasy ever and for fuck’s sake when, when, WHEN will white people get tired of it? I cannot tell you how many white people I have heard expound unto me thier Dances With Wolves or Little Big Man or Every Third Romance Novel With NDNs In It backstory. Shit gets old, and you do not have enough we-sha-sha.). Do some historical study on what characters might be likely to do this (fur trappers and prospectors come immediately to mind). Know that some things are never, ever ok to wear (war paint, feathered headdresses, ESPECIALLY war bonnets, specific religious symbols, etc.) and that evern of you think you’ve done all your homeworks, NDN people might still be pissed at you and that they are right to be so. If you’re not willing to do this, to take these extra steps, then just don’t do it.
Stop and think about why you even want to.
From the above link:
“There is a long colonial history of playing Indian, of settler-colonists assuming Native roles and cultures for themselves.  Philip Deloria even wrote a whole book about it. While I will not go so far as to suggest that white authors cannot, or must not, write from allegedly indigenous points of view, non-indigenous authors, and most especially white authors, must be aware of (and think hard about) the colonialist tropes of playing Indian when they write from an alleged indigenous point of view.
The need to replay the roles, replay the battles, replay the historic scenes is there, especially when the distance of time has not resolved the historical ambiguity about the actions of one’s ancestors, or when the reconstruction of the past seems more glorious than the present. … In that world, not only do Indians not play Indian, but the role for whites to play is not the one they want. They already know that role. It is the “Indian” they want and want to be.
There are two points about “playing Indian” and white people writing children’s books about indigenous people that I wish to bring forward.
In “A Tribe Called Wannabe” (pdf), Rayna Green writes about an incident when white historical re-enactors went through some trouble to learn how to play lacrosse, and even make “authentic” lacrosse sticks, in order to “authentically” re-enact the roles of historical Iroquois and Ojibway in a particular battle. When asked why they didn’t just invite contemporary Iroquois and Ojibway to play those roles — people who already had the relevant knowledge — the white re-enactors eventually admitted that the point of even doing the re-enactment was that they had wanted to play the Iroquois and Ojibwe roles themselves. Green writes (emphasis mine),
When one lives in a settler-colonialist state, when one is ashamed of or conflicted about one’s settler privilege or the actions of one’s ancestors, it can appear to be emotionally simpler, easier, to identify with an indigenous viewpoint. “If I had lived then,” so many of these books and movies say, “I would have done differently. I would have been on the side of the Natives.” 
Almost always: would have done. Would have been.
Almost never: am doing.”
You’re Irish - you have your own lovely, rich, deep culture with its own fascinating history. You have your own ancestors. Go take an interest in THEM.
Bolding mine. I don’t really get why white people want to role play as POC.