Attendees at this year’s Bass Coast Festival will not be allowed to wear Native American-style headdresses and war bonnets when the EDM fest hits Merrit, British Columbia, Aug. 1-4.
The Canadian festival broke the news in a Facebook post today, which reads:
“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.”
Any music fan who has attended Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival or one of many other similar music festivals can attest that non-Native Americans sporting Native American apparel is a common sight. Although the rule would seem difficult to enforce across the fest, Bass Coast’s message is clear.
This year’s Bass Coast lineup features the Ottawa-based, aboriginal trio A Tribe Called Red, which infuses EDM music with Native American influences. Band member Ian Campeau told Huffington Post Canada, “I have yet to speak to someone who is First Nation who wears fake headdresses and war paint to EDM concerts. It’s ‘redface.’ Just like ‘blackface.'”
Earlier this year, Pharrell Williams drew heavy criticism for appearing on the cover of Elle UK wearing a Native American headdress, which he since apologized for. The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne was involved in a messy, public dispute with ousted drummer Kliph Scurlock, who accused the frontman of racism against Native Americans for supporting this sort of headdress-wearing.
And of course, the issue of cultural appropriation in the music world goes beyond Native Americans. For instance, Selena Gomez was criticized for wearing a Hindu bindi during a performance on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, and Katy Perry drew similar disapproval for performing at the 2013 American Music Awards dressed like a Japanese geisha.