Canadian Music Festival Bans Native American Headresses

Native American headdresses have become one of the more troubling fashion trends recently, but it looks like one Canadian fest is trying to put a stop to it. Canada’s EDM festival Bass Coast has banned attendees from wearing the accessory. In a statement, they said, “We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets. They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated … Bass Coast festival takes place on indigenous land and … we feel our policy aligns with [aboriginal peoples'] views and wishes regarding the subject. Their opinion is what matters to us.” Both Pharrell and Wayne Coyne have come under fire for this kind of cultural appropriation, which has become a fad among the Instagram-chic crowd, who coincidentally are mostly the people attending EDM festivals. Security guards will be enforcing the ban. This year’s Bass Coast takes place from 8/1 through 8/4.

Comments (24)
  1. Good.

  2. Not sure if there is much overlap, but what if an actual Native American goes to the festival? How would they know to permit that individual? Granted, I’m assuming this hypothetical Native American would be wearing the headdress, and I’m mostly ignorant towards what occasions N.A.’s would don that attire.

    But that being said, I applaud Bass Coast Fest for taking a strong stand against this “movement”. Can they try to talk some sense into the Washington D.C. Football Team’s owner, now?

    • a native american would not wear a headdress to a music festival. it’s used for spiritual ceremonies. not to see the arctic monkeys and smoke pot with a bunch of college kids

  3. Those damn Canadians, always hating on us Americans and shit.

  4. I’m not particularly religious but I wonder if the same people who support this would also prevent someone from going to a costume party dressed as a Nun? Or is it just a case of feeling sorry for the sins of your forefathers?

    • first off, a nun’s habit hasn’t come to represent a negative stereotype like a war bonnet or headdress of any sort has come to represent an entire culture as the “primitive noble savage” vs. a nun’s habit representing the pious woman bound by tradition.

      not only that, this isn’t a “sins of our forefathers” thing. i’m not too well versed on USA’s history with native people, but atrocities towards natives in canada is as recent in 1960, when native people were finally given the right to vote in canada. as recent as 1972 and 1973, when british columbia and alberta finally repealed their compulsory sterilization acts, in which huge numbers of aboriginal and metis people were sterilized against their will. this is as recent as 1996, when the last residential school in canada was closed, finally putting an end to what was over one hundred years of systematic abuse.

      • I think your rebuttal to the nun argument is kind of off point. While the argument can be made that all stereotypes are negative because you know generalizations are bad, I would say the majority of people wearing these headdresses do so either purely for aesthetic reasons (they look cool, they look interesting, some might think they’re funny to wear) or they actually wear them in attempt to embody some of the attributes they actually admire in what they associate with native americans. That’s not too say that there isn’t some people out there wearing headdresses with more negative intentions, but I think it’s usually a matter of ignorance or lack of sensitivity on the side of the headdress wearer. On the other hand I would say most times non-nuns dress up as a nun it is actually intended to be complete mockery of, if not the entire religion or even religion in general, then at least of the practice of being a nun or the symbology behind nuns.

        • i think it was off point to compare something that represents catholicism vs. what has come to represent basically anyone who has heritage that traces back to pre-colonial north america. war bonnets are traditionally worn by honoured plains indian men, but it has come to represent the many disparate cultures and communities rather than the culture that it comes from. it’s racist because it’s been almost completely removed from the culture it originally came from and any ignorance or lack of sensitivity is inexcusable in the context of north america’s genocide towards native people.

          also, i’m pretty sure most people don’t traipse about music festivals in a nun’s habit.

          • I never argued how excusable it is to wear a headdress just that when someone wears a nun costume it is usually with worse intentions than someone who wears a headdress, which is kind of like the opposite of what you were saying. It also kind of explains why you don’t see many habits at music festivals because most people are not trying to actively offend people at a music festival they wear a headdress cause the think its cool if they were a habit they’d be intending to make some commentary against the culture or simply mock it. I don’t think the original point was too off point; it’s not that relevant to me how many people the item of clothing represents just the idea that if we want to rally against people wearing clothing that could offend a culture should we rally against across the board or just the ones our homeland or race has personally committed genocide against?

        • yes, respect for any group of people is important, but we’re talking racial identity versus a religious one. you can decide whether or not to be religious, but you can’t decide the family you’re born into. not only that, it’s important to consider the social context, especially when discussing what is essentially an ongoing apartheid. south africa’s apartheid system was based off of canada’s indian act and we’re arguably still embroiled in this 400 year mess

          i also should probably mention that the nun argument is kinda silly especially because jesuits, nuns, and other members of the catholic church were very heavily involved with the oppression of native people in canada as they were the people who primarily administered the residential schools which were tasked with “killing the indian in the child” as recently as 1996.

    • Great point. When I was at Coachella, there were TONS of kids dressed up in nun’s habits. It’s really becoming a problem.

  5. I am not from North America, so forgive me if my question is ignorant.
    Why is it controversial to wear such a headpiece. It is just a beautiful piece of clothes – what’s the big deal? Where’s the offense?

  6. Serious question: I’m British – would it be okay for me to wear a Native American headpiece to the event?

    • The British were able to kill a large amount of Native Americans in the 160ish years they occupied parts of North America. So the implication of having your specific nationality not be involved is off base. Even if it were the case it would still be at the very least culturally insensitive and morally wrong.

  7. Very good question, Anthony! I`m afraid there`s no answer. Maybe you shouldn`t just wear anything resembling American (like blue jeans) because Brits colonized America back then, and the only possible way to fully wash off this guilt forever is… you know… watch your clothes.

  8. Some headdress store somewhere is making a fortune off this. OWWWOOOOOOOOO!

  9. I was just thinking yesterday about how Halloween is a great time for America to unleash all its (negative) stereotypes. Perhaps the thrill for many people in music festivals is that it’s Halloween in the summertime.

  10. Okay, I understand the essence of the argument here, but don’t agree with it.

    What about white people with dreadlocks? There’s lots of white people with this hair style, yet many are not Rastas, but merely like the asthetic. Is this in the same league as the Native American Headress?

    Surely, context is important here? If someone who adopts an aspect of anothers culture [even if they're not culturally accurate] because they like the asthetic, then why be offended – the intent is not there?

  11. Oh, and I’ve seen women ‘like’ photos on facebook, where their male friend is dressed as a PIMP. What about the masoginistic undertones here?

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