Skirt, The Issue: A Moment to Address the Headdress

Edmonton Folk Festival, in their 35th year, have once again shown themselves to be a world class organisation. The word came out today that they’ve banned “Indian Headdresses” from their festival grounds. A friend contacted me this morning, to ask would i  like to comment publicly.

At first I thought, who cares? Me, I can tell a Chief from a fashion victim who lacks two original thoughts to rub together. You’re not fooling anyone, headdress hipsters. We don’t think you’re cool.

We think you’re showing yourself to be the ilk of person who would also:

– go dancing in blackface & Confederate flag Daisy Dukes if someone told you it was In;

– strut around in karate do gi w/fake black belt, to get The Look of martial arts;

– want to go clubbing in your fake EPS uniform, to honour the late Constable Woodall;

– go for drinks in your faux Tibetan Monk costume to honour Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s passing;

– and get a Star of David and fake Concentration Camp numbers tattoo cos Jewish suffering was cooool.

“Ironically” wearing insignia that cost people their lives,liberty and families? Not fashion forward.

Aping regalia, clothing, markings that signify real attainment, commitments and skills – such as headdresses, black belts, police uniforms?

Not fashion forward.

So, i applaud Edmonton Folk Fest, yet again showing why they are a leader in our community. I’m not at all surprised that they, like any thoughtful person or organisation who’ve been even half-awake during these TRC years, are not at all fooled by expedient and obnoxious fashion.

You don’t build a world class festival without respecting people, creating an atmosphere of respect and inclusion, and knowing what’s appropriate. You keep the focus on the main event. What is Folk Fest about?

It’s about music, quality music, and how, in gathering to share that music, we honour the diversity of the human family. There are so very many ways to do that that. Endorsing people wearing faux versions of regalia meant for ceremonial, political and leadership positions and events – not even close to on point.

Myself, I’m Aboriginal; but I don’t own a headdress, I haven’t earned one. I go out with the regalia I’ve earned – usually, a pen and book of some sort, because I’m a writer. I know that having the pen and book doesn’t make me a writer; using them does. That, i do.
I don’t know all that it takes to earn and use a headdress. I do know that you don’t have to be Aboriginal. There are plenty of non-Aboriginal leaders who have been given headdresses – Prime Ministers, Premiers, MPs. They have them because they have shown themselves to be in a position that requires and merits a headdress.

I applaud the Folk Fest for using their prerogative to set boundaries for their event. In general, though, in public, there is no law against wearing a fake headdress, and, though i’ll mock mercilessly the idiots who’d do it, i also support their freedom to signal their lack of awareness, character and taste by wearing something they clearly do not comprehend at all how to use.

So, go ahead, wear your faux headdress if you must. Just don’t expect me to respect you for flaunting your lack of class, character, and basic awareness. And finally, if you really Wannabe a chief, with the corresponding commitments, step up.

Stand for election this fall.



All My Relations,


One Comment Add yours

  1. Mary-Ann says:

    Well said, ams! Good for a chuckle as well!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s