Merritt's Bass Coast music festival bans attendees from wearing Native headdresses

The Bass Coast music festival happening in Merritt August 1 to 4 has announced it will not allow ticket holders to wear Native headdresses on-site.

A July 23 message posted on the event’s Facebook page emphasizes that this policy will be enforced.

For various reasons, Bass Coast Festival is banning feathered war bonnets, or anything resembling them, onsite. Our security team will be enforcing this policy.

We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets. They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated.

Bass Coast Festival takes place on indigenous land and we respect the dignity of aboriginal people. We have consulted with aboriginal people in British Columbia on this issue and we feel our policy aligns with their views and wishes regarding the subject. Their opinion is what matters to us.

Skimming through the 178 comments posted so far in response to that message, it becomes evident that a lot of people don’t understand why some First Nations people might find it offensive for (mostly) white people to wear a Native headdress to a music festival.

However, it’s a minority of comments that are explicitly against the ban. And there are far more “likes” and “shares” on the announcement of the headdress ban (a combined 1,628 at the time of writing) than there are comments expressing disapproval.

Over the past few years, it’s become increasingly popular for people to attend music festivals wearing costumes that include clothing and accessories that draw on Native traditions. (Increasingly popular, though still not actually all that common, at least at the festivals I’ve attended this past year.)

In addition to taking place on Native land, the lineup for Bass Coast includes aboriginal performers. The most high-profile of those is the Juno Award-winning DJ group A Tribe Called Red.

In June, the trio made headlines when they were accused of racism for one of their members wearing a T-shirt that played off the logo of the Cleveland Indians baseball team.

Promotional photographs showed Ian Campeau (aka DJ NDN) sporting an ironic version of the Cleveland jersey that had been altered to read “Caucasians” instead of “Indians”. It also included a white head with a dollar sign above it instead of the baseball team logo’s Indian face and feather.

A Tribe Called Red spoke publicly against festivalgoers wearing Native headdresses in a July 12 interview with Huffington Post.

“Please stop,” said DJ NDN. “It's disrespectful and we really don't appreciate it.”

He went on to explain his feelings on the matter: “It’s creating a false idea of what it means to be Indigenous today. It's ‘Pan-Indianism’. It's robbing the First Nations of their nationhoods and nationality. It's making us all ‘Indian’ instead of recognizing me as an Anishnabe or Ojibway. I'm NOT an ‘Indian’. I'm of the Anishnabe Nation. Also, it gives the impression that Natives are something from the past. Not here today. If you were to think of an ‘Indian’ you certainly aren't going to think of me, tattooed in a hoodie with a Sens cap on. We, as First Nation people, have never had control of our image in colonial media since its birth.”

A Tribe Called Red reacted to Bass Coast's July 23 announcement with a message on Twitter.

What do you think? Is Bass Coast’s ban on headdresses enforced by security too PC for a music festival? Or is this an appropriate show of respect?

Comments (16) Add New Comment
RUK
Uh, well, as a man should I be offended by the sight of women wearing trousers? They are stealing MY GENDER'S DESIGNATED VISUAL SIGNAL!!! NEVER MIND THAT YOU FIND THIS CLOTHING TO BE NICE - I OWN IT EXCLUSIVELY!!! STOP HURTING MY FEELINGS!!!

Heh.

On the other hand, I'm not obvious to the seductive comfort of group identity. We are all Canucks (except Tortorella ha ha).

Maybe I can afford to be post-racial because I have other things going on in my life. Maybe other people have different values and maybe I should respect that and not be an asshole about it.

15
41
Rating: -26
NDN supporter
Thumbs up to the Bass Coast organizers. This is what you get when intelligent women run festivals. Well-deserved respect and honor for aboriginal people.
38
27
Rating: +11
bobo
How silly. If this holds up,, then natives shouldn't be allowed to wear sneakers. See how silly it can get when other people want to tell you how to dress. Soon, they will tell you what to eat, what to think etc. Silly, silly, silly!!!!! Oh wait, it's okay for left wingers to tell you what to do , wear, or think. Just not right wingers. Personally I wish all you wing nuts from both sides would butt out of my life. The left wing nutjobs are just like the right wing nutjobs.
16
40
Rating: -24
general custard
late breaking news! mardi gras has been cancelled!

for me its a little too p.c. ; but they are at least showing respect!
what about banning all the trendy tribal shit? oh and the canucks haida hat , they're cool with that!
i'm down for whatever makes the native people happy and is fair...even if i don't agree.
my native friends are split on this issue!
i think native languages should be taught in school , just like how they pushed french on us. or have native immersion schools!
we need more native shit, we can't let their cultures fade away!
11
21
Rating: -10
trollsberg
To bobo and related dimwits: I'll just assume that you have sacred objects in your life, family, or culture, and presumably wouldn't appreciate other people getting wasted, half naked, and dancing around with your sacred objects because they find it fashionable or don't care that they are offending you.

Or perhaps, you're like me, who has few sacred ideas and no sacred objects, but at least realises that I'm from a culture which marginalized another, and to take from that culture and disrespect it is a pretty crummy thing to do. Do unto others, or something like that.
19
17
Rating: +2
Rosie
We all have a right to honor our culture and freedom of speach. We have that as we are in Canada. Banning this is like banning tattoos because they originally started with bikers and jail. If you believe our Native Canadian Culture is the only culture with feather head dresses - you need to expand your mind travel the world.

I am allowed to disagree with this, not go to the festival and wear what I want downtown that honors my own culture - if you find it offensive buy me a tea and tell me your story and I will tell you mine.

Peace xoxox
11
15
Rating: -4
Murritt!
Awesome, now those yuppies on ecstasy drinking, drugging dancing and screwing the weekend away at Basscoast can feel even more smug in their political correctness. Just pat yourselves on the back basscoasters, you've done your political activism for 2014. Along with putting Noenbridge in the middle of your facebook name as you eat your organic veggies trucked up from California and smoke that bong! Viva la revolution!
10
13
Rating: -3
Dresscode at a music festival? Ug
Really? People think a PROHIBITION on a piece of clothing is good?

When has banning anything (especially style choices) worked for anyone?

Why don't we let the government start making dress codes and banning religious or cultural attire and let's see how the Georgia Straight readers like it...
11
14
Rating: -3
No Nose Rings!
Appropriated!
6
8
Rating: -2
RG
What about kilts?
8
7
Rating: +1
Here Here RJ
Ya what about kilts? Those were worn in battle, weren't they? What's up with Kanye appropriating skirts from the Scots for the profit of African Americans?
7
6
Rating: +1
greb
If they're doing that, they should ban any kind of nose or face jewelry because it's sacred to other cuhltures, they should ban tattoos because some tribes used to have sacred tattoos, what about other tribal type jewelry, bone necklaces or anything like it should be banned and what about dancing in general? What if a dance someone was doing resembled a sacred native dance? I think we should make sure any dancing any one does isn't offensive in any way. Dancing has been a part of their traditions for a long time. Also masks, better not allow them, masks have a long, sacred history.
8
9
Rating: -1
la musica
Can I wear a Brazilian feather headdress like the ladies at Carnival?
5
7
Rating: -2
jolly b. good
bannockI a gift from the scots! yes it was a scottish flatbread that was introduced to the native people and vice versa...potatoes in ireland!
one love!
6
8
Rating: -2
Jiu Jang
Are you kucking fidding me? Where does this stuff stop?
We, the dominant (and predominantly kindly) culture, the culture that has taken this country to a safe,stable democracy with a wonderful social security system , an integrated society that is the envy of the world, we have to abrogate our own hard-won liberties to this sort of ridiculous political correctness.
Fot the wuck is wrong with wearing an Indian head dress to any occasion if that's what you want to do?
Yes they were hard done to hundreds of years back and even more recently and yes they were victims of the cultural norms of the times... but so were we as members of the great unwashed back in Europe.
It's bad enough that we have to think twice about anything we say in a society that is terrorized by minority interests but if you don't stand up for freedom of expression at some point, the thought police will have you put in prison for saying good morning.
I urge rational, thinking people to stand up against this sort of cultural bullying.
4
7
Rating: -3
BikerCK
"It's bad enough that we have to think twice about anything we say"

Yes that's a real hardship... having to consider whether your remarks might hurt another. It's a clear violation of your freedoms to ask you to respect the customs of a culture you don't belong to and not their wear ceremonial items as a costume for a party. I think the people who find this dress code too restrictive should make their point by putting on a vest with the H.A. death's head on it and walking into their favourite biker bar. Show that you aren't afraid to apply your desire to claim others' identities regardless of origin.
1
3
Rating: -2
Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.