It's not like they are 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other women living in the United States.
And 86% of the time it’s by a non-Native, according to a recent study by Amnesty International. - mycultureisnotatrend.tumblr.com
"Over the past decade, federal government studies have consistently shown that American Indian and Alaska Native women experience much higher levels of sexual violence than other women in the USA. xxData gathered by the US Department of Justice indicates that Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general. A US Department of Justice study on violence against women concluded that 34.1 per cent of American Indian and Alaska Native women – or more than one in three – will be raped during their lifetime; the comparable figure for the USA as a whole is less than one in five. Shocking though these statistics are, it is widely believed that they do not accurately portray the extent of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.
Amnesty International’s interviews with survivors, activists and support workers across the USA suggest that available statistics greatly underestimate the severity of the problem. In the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, for example, many of the women who agreed to be interviewed could not think of any Native women within their community who had not been subjected to sexual violence.
While the available xxdata does not accurately portray the extent of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women, it does indicate that Native American and Alaska Native women are particularly at risk of sexual violence. According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men. The Department’s xxdata on sexual violence against non-Native women, in contrast, shows that for non-Indigenous victims, sexual violence is usually committed within an individual’s own race. For example, in 2004, perpetrators in 65.1 per cent of rapes of white victims were white, and 89.8 per cent of perpetrators in rapes of African American victims were African American.
Rape is always an act of violence, but there is evidence to suggest that sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women involves a higher level of additional physical violence. Fifty per cent of American Indian and Alaska Native women reported that they suffered physical injuries in addition to the rape; the comparable figure for women in general in the USA is 30 per cent." - Maze of Injustice: The Failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA. Amnesty International (2007) (or PDF version)
"The language used by popular culture in the United States in order to discuss Native history, culture and current events was orchestrated by colonization and campaigns such as Manifest Destiny and help to contribute to a public perception of Natives as strange, mythical creatures, goofy caricatures, or savage, blood-thirsty bushmen—but rarely as complex human beings, capable of imagination, emotion, language and civilization, deserving of respect and consideration, and never as being a part of a current, modern reality.
Finally, the over-sexualization of Natives, particularly of Native women, acts as a double-edged sword in aiding not only the objectification of Native Americans (remember—Natives are just "T and A") but also to the objectification of women in general. Take, for example, recent box office Hollywood hits such as Twilightand Avatar. Both films eagerly embrace the stereotype of the "mythical Indian" and the "sexual Indian" and, in the case of Avatar, eagerly campaign for conquering any such person.
When imagery of a modern-day Indian does show up in mainstream media, it usually portrays extreme poverty, alcoholism and rape. While these images and issues are very real, they do not exude a completed context and, by doing so, they only help to further a disparity between what reality is produced and distributed and an actual reality.
In fact, current trends in popular culture suggest that the public conscious views Native American culture as something of the past entirely. Scantily-clad pop singers parade around stage donning elaborate war bonnets and glittery face paint and stores such as Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 have encouraged this appropriation by mass-producing cheap replicas of sacred items and pandering the items as elements of costume in everyday dress for everyday people. In reality, objects such as war bonnets and dream catchers, and certain feathers, patterns, and colors, are just as sacred to their respective tribes as the Bible, Koran or Torah is to Christians, Muslims or Jews.
In the contexts of the treatment of Native Americans throughout history and in current media and pop culture, holidays that celebrate colonization and a continued policy of assimilate-or-annihilate tell a very different story than the one taught by public school history textbooks. Objectifying and appropriating cultures and peoples makes it easier for a society to justify certain atrocities committed against those cultures and peoples. Creating a public opinion that centers on the idea that Native Americans are something of the past makes it easier to disregard Natives altogether. Dressing up "Indian" on Halloween may seem relatively innocent, but the very fact that doing so is allowable in our society serves as part of a larger discourse." - Sheena Roetman - Bury My Heart On Halloween - The Signal, Georgia State University
"The shocking and contemptible fact that one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore.” - President Barack Obama
"Native American women face the highest rates of sexual violence and physical assault of any group in the United States. According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, one out of three Native women will be raped in her lifetime, and three out of four will be physically assaulted. In the majority of the cases, the assailants are non-Indian." - Violence Against Native Women Violates Human Rights
“One of three Native women will be raped in their life time, six of ten will be physically assaulted, and Native women are stalked at twice the rate of any other population of women." - Terri Henry, Eastern Band Cherokee Council Member
"Native women continue to be socially, economically, and physically marginalized by a society that doesn’t prioritize and sometimes doesn’t even acknowledge the realities of their lives." - Sarah Deer (Muscogee Creek)
"Urban AI/AN women experienced non-voluntary first sexual intercourse at a rate more than twice that of NH-whites (17% vs.8%). Further, urban AI/AN women who had ever been forced to have sexual intercourse were more likely than NH-whites to have initiated sex at a young age. These findings are consistent with previous analyses of Youth Risk Behavior Survey xxdata, in which reports of being physically forced to have unwanted sexual intercourse were more than two-fold higher among urban AI/AN high school students compared to whites (Rutman, 2008).
The current findings also confirm xxdata gathered by multiple sources that have consistently shown higher rates of sexual violence among AI/AN women compared to the general population (Amnesty International, 2007)
[...] 63% reported they were “pressured into it by his words or actions, but without threats of harm” while second and third most common types of force given were “Did what he said because he was bigger or grownup, and they were young,” and being “physically held down." - Reproductive Health of Urban American Indian and Alaska Native Women (2010)
Jessica Yee at Bitch magazine responds to Ke$ha's use of feathered headdresses and war paint: "Several of you saw the ultra cultural appropriation performance of performances from Ke$ha on American Idollast Wednesday night - who decided in all her infinite wisdom to come out half-way through her "blah, blah, blah" song in a headdress and her version of "war paint" (I think).
[...] Some folks in the Native community have said that it's good that at least they are interested in us while others, many of them women, have said that it's extremely insulting never mind the headdress and face makeup itself, but the song that Ke$ha was singing.
Case in point from my good friend Gloria Larocque:
"Listen to the song for what she and the men for that matter, are saying in the song. She is suggesting that there doesn't need to be a whole lot of discussion to get her in the back seat of his car,in fact, too much blah blah blah wont' get her in the backseat at all. Throw in a headdress, she is making a targeted statement to Native American/First Nations women's sexual practices of getting into the back seat of any man who doesn't care for them (meaning they will sleep with anybody)."
Now like I said I wouldn't give Ke$ha credit for knowing this – but it doesn't make it any less true in reality for Native women or any less of an offensive performance. And at what point does willful ignorance have no social responsibility attached to it? (particularly when you are a public figure?) I'm saying willful ignorance as well because it's not like Ke$ha or her entourage had no means to do some damn research before deciding that a headdress would be part of her American Idol number.
There is a whole bunch of wrong going on with Ke$ha, with Juliette Lewis, and since I'm on a roll I'll say it,Twilight and Avatar even, when we talk about the specifics of sexualization and how Native women are represented (anyone have any thoughts about Emily in Twilight: New Moon? And to quote Sandra Hale Shulman from News from Indian Country "would the Na’vi have been doomed if their women had been ugly and unsexual?")" - Feminist Intersection: Ke$sha and the ongoing cultural appropriation and sexualization of Native women - Bitch Media
One of the single most pervasive and harmful facets of the 500 year history of "drawing on Indians" remains the sexual objectification of Native women. It's an important issue that can often be lost in the sea of appropriation and faulty information that sadly marks the modern state of Native representation in the w ider American culture. - Portraying Pocahontas: or the Not-So-Modern Origins of the "Sexy Indian Princess"
"As representations changed, the images of First Nations women as Indian princesses who embodied mystery and exoticism began to emerge. During the post World War I era, the Indian princess is repeatedly portrayed alone in the pristine wilderness, scantily clad in a buckskin or tunic dress, sporting a jaunty feather over two long braids. Most striking, however, is that all of the models are notably white-skinned women." - Guy-Kirby Letts "Indian Princesses and Cowgirls: Stereotypes from the Frontier"
"The fact that Native women are most commonly assaulted by non-Native men is not surprising to me, but does add a historical slant to the idea of how harmful cultural appropriation can be for women. Historically, men have used the implied "natural" sluttiness of women of color as justification for rampant rape or not-really-consensual relationships with women of color, particularly Native women who came into contact with colonists." - Whitney Teal - One Woman's Costume is another Woman's Nightmare
Maze of Injustice: The Failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA. Amnesty International (2007)
Child Trends. (2008, August). Forced Sexual Intercourse Among Young Adult Women.
Ethnic differences in childhood and adolescent sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy.
Stalking in America: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey: Research in Brief
North Carolina Minority Health Facts: American Indians
A Look at the Indian Health Service Policy of Sterilization
How Can International Advocacy Reduce Violence Against Native Women?
Adrienne K. of Native Appropriation writes, "The fans in that picture above (image source) crashed the Neon Indian stage at the music festival Bonaroo (more music festivals and headdresses, of course), wearing headdresses, feathers, and pasties on their bare breasts. According to hipster runoff, this is how it went down:
"And it got even stranger during a riveting, bulked-up version of “Deadbeat Summer,” when a crew of scantily-clad ladies wearing homemade feather headdresses (two of whom were fully topless with colorfully painted boobs) bounded onto the stage, seemingly by design, and cavorted around aimlessly, jiggling to the wistful musings about sunlit streets and a starlit abyss. Depending on your vantage point, it was either hilarious or pathetic, but Palomo just laughed and shrugged."
Apparently the girls jumped up there on their own, and it wasn’t actually part of the set at all.
Yes, the headdresses are wrong. But what gets me even more is the topless/feather pasties part. There’s a legacy and history there that many people don’t know or understand.
Native women have been highly sexualized throughout history and in pop culture. There are any number of examples I can pull from, the “Indian Princess” stereotype is everwhere–think the story of Pocahontas, or Tiger Lily in Peter Pan, or Cher in her “half breed” video, or the land ‘o’ lakes girl, seriously almost any image of a Native woman that you’ve seen in popular culture. We’re either sexy squaws (the most offensive term out there), wise grandmas, or overweight ogres. But the pervasive “sexy squaw” is the most dangerous, especially when you know the basic facts about sexual violence against Native women [...]
Now can you see why my heart breaks and I feel sick every time I see an image of a naked or scantily clad woman in a headdress? This is not just about cultural appropriation. This is about a serious, scary, and continuing legacy of violence against women in Indian Country. These girls probably thought they were just being “counter-culture” or “edgy,” but by perpetuating the stereotypes of Native women as sexual objects, they are aiding and continuing the cycle of violence." - Nudie Neon Indians and the Sexualization of Native Women - Adrienne K.
Native Appropriations: But Why Can't I Wear a Hipster Headdress?
Indigenous Feminism and Cultural Appropriation
"Last year, Kesha rocked a headdress and face paint during an American Idol performance. Last Halloween, my teenage cousin dressed up in a sexy Pocahontas costume. Last month, I found a makeup tutorial on a beauty blog for a “Native American” look, complete with darkened skin and braided pigtails. Last week, nearly every store I entered in the mall was overloaded with shirts and jewelry covered in feathers, tribal symbols, dream catchers, and chief’s head logos (just search "native," "tribal," or "Indian" into online stores like Forever 21 and PacSun for an abundance of examples). This morning, a search for "Native" on weheartit generated mostly images of waif-like White women in various stages of undress adorned with feathers and face paint.
[...] A lot of people don’t have a problem with the commodification of Native womanhood, or see it as a form of cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation. In this case, however, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. The “going native” trend fails to honor Native peoples because it turns their identities into goods that can be bought and sold. It strips their symbols of their historical, cultural, and spiritual significance. It taps into a long colonialist history of entitlement and cultural erasure wherein the White dominate group feels that it is acceptable to decontextualize and steal from other peoples' cultures. News flash: Native people still exists. Depicting Native peoples in “traditional” wear and as from an era long lost to history, food labels such as Land O’ Lakes, athletic mascots, and fashion labels maintain the misconception that Native people no longer exist or are frozen in the past. They also contribute to a pan-Indian understanding of Indigenous identity where all tribal and cultural distinctiveness is lost and subsumed under the broad category of “Native.” Our consumption of these products serves to decontextualization Native people’s from their histories and identities and to distance mainstream American from the lived experiences of Native peoples.
As bell hooks states, “When race and ethnicity become commodified as resources for pleasure, the culture of specific groups, as well as the bodies of individuals, can be seen as constituting an alternative playground where members of dominating races, genders, sexual practices affirm their power-over in intimate relations with the Other,” (23). As such, the commodification of Native identity is but one mechanism that mainstream White culture utilizes to maintain current power relations with Indigenous peoples. The neglect of the lived, embodied experience of Native women in exchange for the construction and perpetuation of the subservient, sexualized Indian princess helps to maintains unequal power dynamics instituted in the era of colonialism. The use of Native women’s images in fashion and in other media and advertising outlets is only possible when mainstream White culture envisions itself as distant from Indigenous people." - I'm an Indian Princess... a look at the "going native" fashion trend
Educating non-Natives at Lightning in a Bottle
The Hipster Headdress Abounds at Coachella
Headdresses and Music Festivals go together like PB and…Racism?
“The Sexiest Rain Dance Ever”
"Jac Vanek is a terribly frustrating designer that is circulating through the hipsters as of late. This is a part of a line that Bloomingdale’s is distributing. Her style lately has been a totally mockery of our culture (I’m a Kiowa Apache descendant) and it’s been sickening me. This video put me over the edge and wanted to share it with you. And don’t get me started on Audrey Kitching (another blogger) that does it just as much." - My Culture Is Not A Trend
This article may not be edited or altered in any way except by the author.