People Dressing Up As Indians For Halloween

I know I’ve written a few posts on this already and I’ve pretty much said everything that I wanted to say. However, yesterday I read a post on WordPress of a blog I follow. The blogger posted a picture of her children in their Halloween costumes.

Here is the link: The conundrum of Batgirl « Reel Girl

The post is actually about her one daughter dressing as Batgirl, but everyone was calling her Batman. Her oldest daughter decided to dress up as a Native American and if you scroll down to the end of the blog, you will see a picture of her children in their costumes.

The blogger explained that her daughter wanted to dress up as a Native American because she is studying the Miwok tribe and doing a report for school on them. When I saw the girl dressed up as a Native American, my first thought definitely wasn’t that she was doing this to disrespect Natives. It seems that she has enjoyed learning about the Miwok so much, that she wanted to be one for Halloween. Of course, some Natives call this the “white” way of thinking. (How can you think a color?)

But I see no harm meant by her dressing up as a Native American, I see no ill intent and I just can’t be mad at her. Or even her mother. I can’t help to think though, that perhaps there are people out there that would have verbally attacked this young girl, or her mother, for dressing as a Native American.

All I can say that as a Native American myself, I’m not offended by this girl dressing as a Native American. And who knows, maybe she will begin studying more Native American history. Maybe her studying the Miwok tribe will turn into her doing something good to help Native Americans when she grows up.

9 thoughts on “People Dressing Up As Indians For Halloween”

  1. Hi CherokeeWriter,

    Thanks for your post and I wondered about this issue when my daughter asked me if she could dress as a Miwok for Halloween. This research paper is her first one and its on tribes from the Northern California area where we live. Her paper is divided into sections like food, social customs, history, geography, clothing etc. For clothing, she read that Miwoks under 10 wore no clothing. Because my daughter is 9, we talked about how if she were being authentic, she would wear no costume. She also had in her report that on hot days, Miwoks cooled down with mud, but she thought that would be itchy and it wasn’t hot. In her paper, she reported that Miwoks wore bones and shells, so my husband bought her a bunch and we were going to string them, but then she misbehaved, we go it in argument, and I said as a consequence she could not have the beads until after Halloween. We also talked about how the costume wasn’t authentic, and as I wrote, she asked for a bow. When we were trick or treating, there was a man in actual, authentic native american ceremonial clothing who owns a strore.

    So I havent read you blogs yet on this, but I will. I’m wondering, and will probably find out from reading, if you usually never condone “dressing up as a Native American” on Halloween. I appreciate that you recognize my daughter’s intention in choosing to wear what she did.



    1. I don’t have a problem with people dressing up as Native Americans for Halloween. I know there are other Native Americans that would. Some would actually be pretty mad about it, but I think there are more important issues to be upset about than someone dressing as Indian for Halloween.

      I was actually told that it would be offensive if I dressed up as Sacajawea for Halloween because I’d be in regalia. I just see it as I’m wearing up as a historical figure.

      Thanks for the comment and I hope you don’t mind me linking your blog.


    1. I admire Sacajawea too. I still plan to dress up as her one year for Halloween. It won’t be to offend anyone, I want to dress up as her because I do admire her and I think it’ll give me a chance to educate people about her as well.


  2. Hello, Cherokeewriter.

    Despite my handle being one of obvious Greek origin, I am, in fact, of Irish descent on both sides of my family.
    So, I actually have an idea of where you’re coming from.

    I have a number of family members that dislike the way many people celebrate St Patrick’s Day.
    They feel that it feeds into the stereotypes of drunken Irishmen.
    The way I have decided to look at is one of two ways.
    One, some people will use any excuse to party.
    Two, some people genuinely love the Irish.
    Either way it isn’t really insulting.

    As far as Halloween costumes go, people usually tend to dress up as things they like, admire, or wish to emulate.
    That should be flattering.
    More and more kids are learning in schools today how interesting and rich the Native American cultures are.
    (Although I fear that Johnny Depp may do damage in his portrayal of Tonto in the upcoming Lone Ranger movie)


  3. I dressed up as a ‘Native American’ once or twice in my youth – but I used a dress actually worn by a Native American in Central America, with a colorful ruana on top. Since I have a ‘Central American’ appearance, I think I pulled it off in an authentic way. I even won Prettiest Costume at a party. It’s a nice memory. Like you, I am not offended by kids dressing up as Native Americans (or other cultures) for Halloween. Halloween is a great time to explore something new.


  4. I think immitation is the highest form of flattering. Parody is another matter entirely. I think it’s okay if applied to yourself, but not okay if used as a way to make fun of someone else unless… well… people like Osama Bin Ladin are just begging for it. A monster can only be mocked as a after all. And…. I think I’ll finish this thought on my own blog because, you know me, I’ve been known to wax a bit verbous.


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