Found this on Pinterest, and followed it to the blog page. I was all ready to talk about how women don’t wear headdresses, but then I went and did some research on head…wear… among NDN cultures. Then I scrolled down and saw that, thankfully, someone had made this comment:
this probably isn’t going to get approved, but although this is a cute idea, it’s pretty gosh darned racist. using “indians” to describe native americans is definitely not a thing anymore and it kind of smacks of colonialism. not a hugely awesome thing to teach kids today. sticking to hand print turkeys is probably a better way to go.
The page owner then changed the description to “Native American,” but still left the craft up. So I felt like I could add something to the discussion in a non-alienating but still calling-out fashion:
Actually, what’s probably more racist than saying “Indian” (“American Indian” or “[Region] Indian” is considered more acceptable than just “Indian,”, “Native American” is also okay; better still would be to refer to specific tribes) is the fact that this is the same caricature of “Indian” that’s been seen for years and years that muddles up distinct native cultures.
For example, very few tribes wore feathers like this. Fewer still allowed women to wear feathers on their heads at all; from the headband you have, they might be Abenaki, or Lenape. But if they are Abenaki or Lenape, they wouldn’t be wearing this kind of facepaint, which looks more suited to plains indians. If they were Lenape, they would wear facepaint, though instead of stripes, the girl might have a red dot on each cheek and at the part of her hairline, while the boy would have his whole face painted. The girl’s hair would more likely be back in a single braid or bun as opposed to pigtails, and if the boy is old enough he might be wearing a roach (which looks like what we call a mohawk).
I realize this is all a little complicated to explain to a toddler, and that the reason for doing this craft is because it’s quaint and cute, and it hearkens to a classic image we all have in our heads and associate with childhood. Unfortunately, it is also a false image that ends up perpetuating lots of bad and racist ideas (Indians are all the same, they’re not around anymore, etc). Doing this with your kids now will create that kind of naive nostalgia that many of us have which makes it so hard to see why this is a big deal. I’m with Anonymous on the hand turkey.