It’s happened again. A mainstream European wrap company has co-opted Native American imagery and patterns. Hoppediz named the wrap “El Paso”, but the pattern is clearly stolen from western Native American textiles. Not only have they stolen cultural heritage, however. They’ve also advertised the wrap with model wearing headbands and feathers.
People. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson with Ellevill Tri-Indian (renamed Tri-Spice and without the feather-wearing model) and Artipoppe’s Crow Cheyenne. When European companies take Native American imagery and use it to make a profit, it’s called cultural appropriation. This is not okay.
Here’s why. White people systematically slaughtered, force-marched, abused, and massacred Native Americans. We herded them onto reservations, then onto smaller reservations. We took away their livilihood – their land, and the hunting and fishing they used to survive. We killed all their buffalo. We stole their children and stuck them into Indian schools, where they were forbidden to speak their native languages and beaten if they did.
Today, many Native American reservations are rife with poverty, alcoholism, and teen pregnancy. We use them as mascots: The Braves, the Indians, the Redsk*ns. Their position on the US social ladder pretty much sucks.
And then some European wrap company waltzes in and steals their patterns, complete with befeathered models. They even include a stereotypical Native American chieftan in the print. I can’t decide which part is the most offensive.
See the problem here? Hoppediz is profiting off a legacy of cultural abuse and degredation. Native Americans won’t see any money for this. Instead, they’re reduced to another cutesy symbol, like Smitten’s hearts or Natibaby’s musical notes.
Did they think that because the Washington team uses the imagery that it’s okay? Did they just ignore the long babywearing history of cultural appropriation?
Either way: not cool, Hoppediz. Not cool. The babywearing world takes cultural appropriation very seriously. Hopefully you’ll be forced to issue and apology and pull the wrap from marketing. With that big ol’ chieftain head, nothing less will suffice.