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who you’re insulting when you buy “native american”-inspired things

This 2015 video from Refinery29 explores a trend within the world of fashion to use Navajo and other Native American designs in products that are made by and marketed to non-Natives. It critiques the use of Native aesthetics by people who do not understand their meaning, even if they see themselves as honoring Native Americans. The video showcases the work of Navajo, or Diné, designers creating a combination of traditional and contemporary fashions and jewelry. It shows how these designers are collaborating to build a creative community. They use their work to resist and remix what they see as harmful appropriations of their culture, while emphasizing their right to represent themselves.


Have you ever purchased something with Native designs? Was it made by a Native American? What made you want to buy it?

Have you ever worn something with a Native design? Why or why not?

Some people argue that it is ok to culturally appropriate Native culture because they admire and respect it. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

Do you think consumers interested in Native designs should purchase items from Native designers? Why or why not? What are the symbolic/cultural and economic reasons for this?

Some Native American advocates have suggested that consumers need “re-training” to see the importance of knowing the story behind the clothing they wear. Do you agree? Do you think this is possible? Why or why not? What would be necessary for this to happen?

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