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War Bonnet
Kiowa, 1890
The National Museum of the American Indian
I knew I wanted to do Native American fashion on Thanksgiving, but I was nervous about making it seem like it’s acceptable to wear this stuff out to a party.  So, it needs to be said: this is a war bonnet worn by an honored man of the Kiowa tribe.  Each feather was earned through a brave deed in battle, and the bonnet could only be worn with the consent of the leaders of the tribe.  This is not something you just wear.  It is an object of tremendous cultural importance, and it needs to be respected as such.  
I know there are a lot of my fellow White people out there who think wearing a war bonnet is somehow justifiable because they’re 1/32nd Cherokee (it’s usually Cherokee because once it became sufficiently clear that White people had taken over, the Cherokee Nation tried its best to integrate.  It didn’t go so well).  First of all, your Cherokee ancestors probably looked more like this instead of this.  Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your Native American ancestry, you just need to do it in a way that doesn’t stereotype and degrade all Native Americans.  War bonnets like this one are only worn among the nations of the Great Plains.  Nations from other parts of the Americas wear other things.  Do some research, or even get involved in modern cultural events of whatever nation you happen to be descended from.  You and Native Americans everywhere will be better off for it.

War Bonnet

Kiowa, 1890

The National Museum of the American Indian

I knew I wanted to do Native American fashion on Thanksgiving, but I was nervous about making it seem like it’s acceptable to wear this stuff out to a party.  So, it needs to be said: this is a war bonnet worn by an honored man of the Kiowa tribe.  Each feather was earned through a brave deed in battle, and the bonnet could only be worn with the consent of the leaders of the tribe.  This is not something you just wear.  It is an object of tremendous cultural importance, and it needs to be respected as such.  

I know there are a lot of my fellow White people out there who think wearing a war bonnet is somehow justifiable because they’re 1/32nd Cherokee (it’s usually Cherokee because once it became sufficiently clear that White people had taken over, the Cherokee Nation tried its best to integrate.  It didn’t go so well).  First of all, your Cherokee ancestors probably looked more like this instead of this.  Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your Native American ancestry, you just need to do it in a way that doesn’t stereotype and degrade all Native Americans.  War bonnets like this one are only worn among the nations of the Great Plains.  Nations from other parts of the Americas wear other things.  Do some research, or even get involved in modern cultural events of whatever nation you happen to be descended from.  You and Native Americans everywhere will be better off for it.

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