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Posted Jul 17th, 2015 (9:00 am) by Arielle Gray
Two Canadian Festivals ban Native Headdresses
Two Canadian Festivals ban Native Headdresses

The Osheaga Festival and the Edmonton Folk Festival have become the newest additions to a short list of festivals rightfully banning Native American headdresses. The two festivals have taken a step in the right direction by stemming the all too prevalent cultural appropriation of war bonnets in the music festival scene.

Osheaga released a Facebook statement on Monday, politely asking festival goers to leave their headdresses at home. A woman sporting a headdress and a full face of war paint at the Winnipeg Folk Festival sparked so much backlash on Twitter that Edmonton preemptively banned the headgear for their upcoming festival.


These bans come a year after Bass Coast, a festival taking place on indigenous land, banned war bonnets. There are rumors that Ile Soniq and Heavy Montreal, two other Canadian festivals, will be following Osheaga and Edmonton's example. Many have protested these bans on Osheaga and Edmonton's Facebook pages, claiming that the headdresses are harmless and are only meant as a means of expressing individuality. Many others, along with the people of the First Nations, disagree.

Besides blocking other's view of the stage, headdresses are a distasteful and insensitive "fasion statement" present in festival and music culture. David Guetta's use of headdresses at his F*** Me I'm Famous party is one of the most recent uses of the item in the music industry. Pharrel also faced backlash last year for wearing a war bonnet. This headgear is more than a fashion statement - headdresses are culturally sacred. Its no surprise that there's an outcry from Native communities when their cultures are bastardized with these counterfeits.

Some opposing the ban are using the "cultural appreciation" argument. However these costume headdresses aren't culturally representative. For one, they perpetuate harmful stereotypes. Second, these headdresses often incorrectly combine distinct styles from one First Nations community with feathers or materials that would be used in a totally different community. This insensitive conglomeration succeeds in only grouping Native peoples into a monolith and does none of their cultures justice.

The most this ban means for festival goers is a change in wardrobe, but for peoples of the First Nation this is a win in an ongoing battle for the preservation of their cultures. Props to Osheaga and Edmonton for doing the right thing, and we will see if any American festivals will follow in their footsteps next season.

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