June 18, 2013

A Monkey Tries on Native American Garb (Again)

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before or not, but besides being a former history major, I am part Muskogee. It makes me sick that our government literally tried to wipe my ancestors out and got away with it, and especially that the person most responsible for Native American slaughter remains on our twenty dollar bill, worshiped by some as a great hero. Ooh I hate Andrew Jackson! I'd love to kick his teeth out, and then kick his nose in...

But I digress.

When the Paul Frank company held a "powwow" featuring mock scalpings with plastic tomahawks, supposedly in the name of Native American fashion, I hit the ceiling. Though apparently the guests at the "powwow" had a grand old time, obviously Native Americans and human rights advocates did not care for the racism the event taught so freely.
Paul Frank's Racist Powwow
Sadly, it sounds as if this whole debacle really may have been an attempt to celebrate Native Americans (what a nightmarish thought!).
However, it is hard to imagine this being intended as reverence.

Or this.

I am guessing that the planners and designers did not do any research beyond watching very old western movies(and maybe some old Cher music videos too?) before making their decisions or such a thing could never have happened. After being bombarded with emails, Paul Frank started realizing even cute little monkeys can't get away with everything and offered to mend its ways. What makes this story odd, though, is that rather than just issue a formal apology, the company seems to have tried to actually repent!

Paul Frank has now collaborated with four Native American designers from four different parts of the country to get a more accurate and authentic look (as well as one that wont' make me want to kill him, lol). The results sound as if they are going to be beautiful.

The Paul Frank x Native Designers Collaboration

According to Dr. Metcalfe at Beyond Bucksin, "The four designers selected for this collaboration are ideal candidates. Louie Gong (Nooksack) has been in the Native pop art and design scene for years, most notably for his hand-painted Northwest Coast-infused Vans sneakers. Cree/Metis artist Candace Halcro's beaded sunglasses are topnotch with quality and color patterning. The Soft Museum is a collective of artists who hail from Santa Fe and have connections with the Institute of American Indian Arts - they create fun accessories from plastic hama beads and take the concept of adornment to new levels. Dustin Martin, a Navajo artist and Columbia University grad, brings a potent blend of crisp graphics and intelligence that infuse streetwear with intellect. Together they are creating a limited edition collection that fuses their own artistic styles with the Paul Frank brand and includes a tote bag by Gong, sunglasses by Halcro, jewelry by The Soft Museum, and a tee by Martin."

I can't wait to see those sunglasses! But I'll have to, until August, at least. In the meantime I'll be crossing my fingers and praying that this time Paul Frank has got it right.


  1. Oh you have no idea how pleasantly surprised I was to find you in my partners list on swapbot (follow me 12), to actually have a blog post that is more than just one sentance backing up poor photography was a relief in itself, but an actual well thought out post with substance? I'm very glad to have you on my list!

    I'd not heard of this wierd homage to Native Americans before but on my goodness. it offends me and I'm not even slightly American! You must have been livid to see such a mockery being made of your heritage but good for them! Trying to make amends like that...Good for them!

    AmoAngelus -follow me 12

  2. Gosh! SOunds like a good resolution in the end. hope it goes well.

    Pookledo follow me #12

  3. Sorry to hear about the fashion company fiasco mocking your heritage. Sometimes people forget that small actions can be insensitive to other cultures. Hope the collaboration goes well!

    Katrina Alana (swap-bot)


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