Cultural Appropriation of Symbols in the United States
The term cultural appropriation refers to the use of one part of a culture by an individual who is not a member of that culture. In some cases, you may hear the term as cultural misappropriation, but cultural appropriation is the actual term.
Some Symbols Have Meaning and Some Do Not
As we walk around in our every day lives, we see many symbols although we may not realize it. We see symbols for food, people, animals, achievement, certain areas of education, the military and different parts of culture. All of these symbols can be divided between restricted and nonrestricted items.
A Native American headdress is considered a restricted symbol by the United States government. This means that it is off limits for reproduction. Yes, there are definitely people in the United States and around the world that have mocked this symbol even though it is restricted, but the point is that you cannot do so and also claim to honor that symbol.
Headdresses are large ornamental pieces of clothing that Native Americans have a worn on their heads for centuries. Headdresses are popular among the Plains nations Indians. It is rare for women to wear these ornaments in their culture, but when a man wears a headdress, it means that he has accomplished something in order to earn that headdress. For this reason, most Native Americans feel that headdresses require a large amount of respect, and this is why they are considered a restricted item. This is also why you may have heard a lot about the controversies surrounding sports fans wearing these ornaments to root for their favorite teams with Native American mascots.
Categories: Cultural Appropriation of Symbols, Native American Culture, Native American Headdress