How to Look Native American: Putting it Into Practice

Published on August 2, 2014 by Carol

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Wear a few special pieces

1. Wear a few special pieces. For example, wearing a pair of moccasins or some turquoise jewelry is a fine choice, but decking yourself out in every item you own at once is probably over the top – and a little too close to trying to “dress” Native American. Choose an item or two that have special significance to you and incorporate them into your unique style. If you dress “Native American” from head to toe but you don’t have Native American heritage, you’re making a statement that you’re someone you’re not.

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2. Don’t go out in a costume. Don’t dress up like a stereotypical version of a Native American for any reason – even if it’s for a costume party or Halloween. Even if you think it’s all in good fun, it’s disrespectful and ultimately harmful. You might mean well, but unless your aim is to get attention – the negative kind – don’t wear it.

  • Even if you’re dressing up as a favorite character from a book, show or movie, it’s still not OK to put on this type of costume. Other people might not know exactly who you’re trying to portray, and in any case, your costume choice could be very offensive to some people.
  • 3. Don’t try to “look” Native American – unless you are. Trying to look as though you’re part of a culture other than your own is disrespectful. If you’re attracted to Native American designs and art, educate yourself about Native American history and learn how to honor Native American values without appropriating them.

  • Even famous fashion designers, musicians, sports teams and movie stars are guilty of perpetuating stereotypes and crossing the line. But many groups have spoken out against these practices and called on non-Native Americans to stop. For example, the “Change the Mascot” campaign calls on the National Football League to stop using an offensive mascot for the NFL team in Washington, DC.
  • Making your best effort to be well informed will help you express yourself through fashion without hurting other people.
  • Source: wikihow Unabridged
    Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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