The Canadian festival Bass Coast has asked attendees to drop the feathers and war paint to ‘protect the dignity of aboriginal people’
Festivals please take note. Bass Coast, an EDM festival held in Merritt, Canada, has banned any of its attendees from sporting Native American-style headdresses, garments that have become depressingly popular with festival goers over the past decade.
In a press release, the festival announced that their security team will be enforcing the rule onsite and protecting the "dignity of aboriginal people".
Bass Coast (August 1-4) has become one of Canada's most popular music festivals in recent years and takes place on indigenous land, something firmly in the organisers' minds when they placed an embargo on the donning of war bonnets onsite.
Bass Coast representatives consulted with aboriginal people in British Columbia and it was decided: Yes, it's pretty shit when people on drugs wear Native American headdresses and mill about to DJs without a moment's consideration for the cultural significance of the item that they're wearing.
Appropriating culture that you don't know much about has landed musicians in trouble recently. From Avril Lavigne's end-of-times Hello Kitty video to Pharrell wearing a Native American-style headdress on the cover of Elle, it's a minefield worth avoiding; particularly if the history of said appropriated aesthetic is irreversibly entwined with forced resettlement, the stripping of cultural identity and civil war.
Last year, the Canadian electronica group A Tribe Called Red made a public statement pleading with fans to stop getting wearing headdresses. "Non-Natives that come to our shows, we need to talk," they tweeted. "Please stop wearing headdresses and war paint — it's insulting."
A Tribe Called Red are playing Bass Coast this year and luckily they haven't got a thing to worry about.
Where do you stand? Do you think that it's offensive to wear headdresses, or other cultural signifiers like bindis if the culture isn't "your own"?