Indian war bonnet tattoo

Indian war bonnet tattoo DEFAULT

In the Americas, there have been more Native American tattoos put on skin than any other type of design out there. With that in mind, it might come as a surprise that many of those same designs that were on Native Americans hundreds of years ago are still quite popular today. In fact, a few of them aren’t even really thought of as “Native American” tattoos anymore because they are worn by so many people from many different backgrounds. On this page we will take a look at some of those Native American tattoos and why they might be the right designs for you.

The feather

The feather, which you will find in many Native American tattoos, is the ultimate symbol of honor to just about every tribe that has ever existed. It’s a way to honor the gods, but most people get feather tattoos to honor those who came before them. Not only is the feather a very meaningful Native American symbol, it is also a very attractive design when done correctly. It works very well on its own as an arm tattoo, but it also looks just as good when combined with other Native American symbols. If you are thinking about getting some kind of Native American tattoo, then definitely consider the feather.

The arrows

Arrows have long been used in Native American tattoos to represent defense and protection. It is a way for people to say that they both need protection and are willing to protect those around them. While arrows were always known for being Native American tattoos, they are now worn by people all over the world and still hold the same meanings. The number of arrows you get can change the meaning slightly, but in most cases people still get them to symbolize protection.

The arrowhead

If you are looking for a tattoo to represent your alertness, then the arrowhead is the perfect Native American tattoo for you. It shows that the owners of these tattoos are always at the ready for whatever comes their way. This was obviously a very important symbol to Native Americans since they were often at war and needed to be aware of everything going on around them. The arrowhead tattoo is an excellent small design for the hand, forearm, or even the foot.

The headdress

The headdress, also known as the war bonnet, has always been worn by leaders of Native American tribes, so they symbolize both power and honor. Not only are headdress tattoos a great way to honor your ancestors, they are also amazing looking designs that can be customized in many different ways. You can opt for a more classic looking war bonnet, or you can make it your own by mixing in different feather types and colors.

The war paint

War paint tattoos are a great way to show the specific tribe that your ancestors were in. Each had their own colors and styles, so some people choose to get war paint on their arms, legs, or anywhere else they think it will look good. The key with these Native American tattoos is to make the designs look like real paint rather than just getting straight lines of color.

The dreamcatcher

The dreamcatcher is a classic tool used by Native American tribes for catching their bad dreams and only allowing the good ones to come through. Today people get them in tattoo form as a symbol of protection. They happen to be some of the most popular Native American tattoos today not only for their very strong meanings but also because they make for some beautiful tat designs.

The Native American chief

If you want to go with a more detailed Native American tattoo, then you might want to look into getting a Native American chief design. This is not the type of design that you’ll want to customize too much, though, since you are honoring a human being. Most people choose to get chiefs that are well known in their family’s tribes, while others choose chiefs that were more closely associated with their families in some way.

The teepee

The teepee was the what protected Native American tribes from the elements and where they got to be where with their families, so it’s no surprise that the teepee is a very popular Native American tattoo design. This is a great tattoo to get if you want something that symbolizes both family and protection. Unlike many of the other Native American tattoos mentioned on this page, the teepee can look great basically anywhere on the body.

The animal

Unlike some other animal tattoos, animals in Native American tattoos are usually just a show of respect towards that animal rather than holding extra meanings. Native Americans respect and even worship many creatures found in nature, so these aren’t the types of animal tattoos that you mess around with too much. Bears, eagles, falcons, foxes, horses, and snakes are just some of the animals that you can add into your Native American tattoo design.

The Native American historical scenes

Rather than just getting a single symbol in your tattoo, you might instead want to go all out with a famous Native American moment from the past. If you want to get a Native American historical scene tattooed on you, then you should definitely consider getting it as a back tattoo. This will give you a large canvas to work with so you don’t have to squeeze everything into the image. It also means that you have a flatter surface so the entire scene will be in view when someone is looking at it from behind you.

The sleeve

Another way to combine a bunch of great Native American tattoos into a single design is to mix a bunch of your favorite Native American symbols into a sleeve tattoo. These are definitely not easy to design since you need to make sure that it looks good from every angle, but that added work you put into it will make it that much more rewarding when the tattoo is finally on your arm.

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Indian Headdress Cultural Appropriation | Facts and Response


We recently featured a female STAPAW model wearing a feather headdress in a tattoo photo shoot. The vast majority of STAPAW supporters loved the tattoo photo shoot. However, we received 6 particularly obscene emails from viewers who were irate at our photo shoot. They claimed it was cultural appropriation and was by default racist. The STAPAW movement working to allow tattoos and piercings in the workplace by default offends some people, but it's our firm belief that merit based employment is imperative to cultural growth and development. Controversy is a war zone we call home. We believe standing against destructive views far outweighs appeasing a select few viewers, so here is our public response.

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The STAPAW staff member writing "Indian Headdress Cultural Appropriation | Facts and Response" is part native American Indian and his father grew up on the Colville Indian Reservation in Washington state.

Cultural Appropriation Definition: "Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture."

ARGUMENT #1: Cultural appropriation in fashion is bad.


The idea that only a certain ethnicity, culture, heritage or nation can wear an article of clothing is dangerous. It implies we cannot appreciate other's fashion, styles or ways. If this standard was applied evenly across the board, the French invented the tie, so should only the French wear ties? Leopard print clothing is from Africa, high heels are from Persia, and Egyptians were the first to use nose rings, and the Mayan civilization was the first recorded civilization to stretch their ears, and thus should they be the only ones to do so? The concept of modern tattoos is said to come from Polynesia, and the word "tattoo" is Polynesian. Were Japanese explorers responsible for cultural misappropriation when they brought tattooing to Japan? Were European sailors culturally misappropriating when they tattooed their arms? Better yet, can only Japanese use Irezumi tattoos, can only Arabs have Arabic tattoo script, can only American's use a tattoo machine since it's an American invention? Western fashion designers borrow much of their fashion from India and China, so to be fair most of the jewelry and much of the clothing used in modeling couldn't be used if we applied the same logic. People who decry cultural appropriation in fashion at best do so selectively and at worst are blatant hypocrites.

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ARGUMENT #2: The feather headdress is unique to Native American Indian culture.


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The freedom to appreciate and adopt various types of dress and fashion is great. Our whole movement is based on tattoos and piercings which is all about individuality and uniqueness. Hundreds of cultures throughout history wore feather headdress headwear. European cultures including the Vikings, Roma People, Celtic, Druids, Romans, Greeks and more wore feather headdress adornment. It is not rude or inconsiderate to wear a Indian headdress anymore than it is rude or inconsiderate for a native American Indian to wear a button up shirt which was invented by the English. If a Native American Indian wore a Renaissance period costume to a Renaissance festival it would not be cultural misappropriation, it would be them having fun and dressing different than the societal dress code box that some might place on them. If a model wears a warbonnet headdress it is not cultural misappropriation, it is having fun and dressing differently than the societal dress code box that some might place on them.

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ARGUMENT #3: Cultures should be kept separate.


We're a melting pot. We're a conglomeration of everyone's cultures. Hopefully, as a culture, we adopt positive elements and discontinue negative elements. To be blunt we don't adopt the practice of scalping our enemies, which not all Indians did, and Indians don't adopt the practice of handing out smallpox blankets, which not all Americans did. However, there are plenty of positive ideas, inventions, fashions, cultural elements, and values that hopefully cultures can recognize and adopt. If a modern native American Indian wants to wear a button up shirt to work and if a black or white American wants to wear a feather headdress to a modeling shoot or a concert there's nothing intrinsically offensive about that or cultures in general adopting other's styles.

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ARGUMENT #4: The feathered Native American headdress held spiritual meaning


Only a very small fraction of tribes actually attributed any spiritual meaning to their Native American headdress. A modern parallel would be people wearing the Catholic rosary with their outfit solely for fashion. Much like the Catholic rosary has specific amount of beads, specific sizes and certain sequences, an Indian headdress with spiritual significance had specific feathers, specific patterns, specific beads, and specific designs. The feather headdress we used is completely different than those designs. Our feather headdress was made in the UK by an Indonesian native and was an artistic blending of Indonesian and American styles, but is not a replica of spiritual styles. The only similarity is that they both have feathers, but they are not the right color, breed, or length of feathers worn in a spiritual Indian headdress. That would be like someone wearing a beaded necklace and another person saying because it is similar to a rosary because of its similar elements (beads) that it's disrespectful to wear. No one culture can claim sole authority on headdresses, necklaces or any other article of clothing. Most feather headdresses sold today do not mirror spiritual headdresses in any way other than both headdresses had/have feathers.

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ARGUMENT #5: The Indian headdress was an earned male rites of passage, and thus shouldn't be worn by non-males who didn't earn it.


They were a status symbol and only males wore them. A warbonnet was proof of manhood and was added onto with acts of bravery and acts in war. Thus, the line of thought goes, our model wasn't a man, didn't have a sanctioned act of bravery and wasn't a warrior so she hasn't earned the right to wear it. Well, a fully decorated boy scout uniform is something that takes years to earn. If you or a Native American Indian or anyone else wore that for fun no one would be offended, and no one should. You are not falsely impersonating a boy scout, you are just having fun. It's easier to argue that the Indian headdress was misogynistic because only males could wear them, than it is to argue that it's offensive for a non-male or non-Native American to wear a Native American headdress. (Also, we don't think the Indian headdress is misogynistic or that it's sexist to have male and female headdresses/clothing within a culture.) It's like telling someone you can't wear a crown because you didn't earn it since you're not Miss Universe or Queen Elizabeth.

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ARGUMENT #6: The Indian headdress wasn't just clothing, it was ceremonial, and thus shouldn't be worn outside of a ceremony.

ANSWER: Specific feathers and headdresses varied in meaning across tribes for various ceremonies. A wedding dress is also ceremonial in nature for arguably the most significant life event besides birth, yet if someone in a foreign country wore a wedding dress for a photo shoot or wore it as a costume it wouldn't and shouldn't be offensive "culture appropriation."

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ARGUMENT #6: You shouldn't offend people.

ANSWER: It is absolutely impossible to not offend everyone. Take for example tattoos and piercings. Tattoos and piercings are offensive to some and to others it's offensive that they're not able to show tattoos and piercings. We are lucky to live in a country where we have freedom of expression and dress and the liberty to be honest and to offend and appreciate each other's differences. The alternative is a segmented society separated by differences by sensitive factions forcing their opinions and preferences on others, while we walk on eggshells.

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Wearing a Spanish flamenco dress for a party doesn't make you racist and isn't cultural appropriation. Wearing moccasins around the house doesn't make you racist. It would be more easily argued that taking offense to that makes you thin skinned. What may personally annoy me is not the rubric for what another person should not do. We should be too absorbed in our own convictions and practices to be concerned about the practices of someone else. What they do doesn't undermine the significance and meaning of what we do or wear.

CONCLUSION: If our model is 20% Native American Indian should she be allowed to wear 20% of the feather headdress? Hopefully, our reply on culture appropriation was thought provoking. You're always welcome to participate on any of our posts and say anything you want in support or in question of what we do. We believe free thought and the open marketplace of ideas is to be protected at all costs while most current culture believes "being nice" while avoiding questioning decisions and avoiding offending people is paramount.



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75 Amazing Native American Tattoos For A Tribal Look

If you are looking for a way to represent the love you have for your Native American culture than do that with a stunning tattoo design. These tattoo design are a great way to represent the passion you have for your heritage. Some of the earliest settlers have tattoos such as these because of their love of culture.

The Native American culture is a very old and spiritual one. Many tattoo design were once done as a religious practice. There are many different elements to a Native American tattoo such as birds, reptiles, animals and tribal wear.

The dreamcatcher is also a very popular tattoo design when it comes to the Native American culture. It is a well known symbol that people still use to this day as a means of warding off evil spirits. It’s a colorful and very original tattoo design that can be made more creative as you add things to it. You can incorporate beads, feathers and even insects to the design. It follows no specific pattern so you can be as creative as you want.

It’s not the only design out there however, there are many different Native American designs that are sure to make you happy.

Check out the list below of 75 Amazing Native American Tattoos for A Tribal Look:

1. Portrait Tattoos

You don&#;t get a more stunning design than this one. The woman with the tribal headdress is absolutely stunning. The added owl just completes the picture.


2. Tribal Designs

A great example of the kind of tribal designs available to you.


3. Stunning Drawing

A great drawing type tattoo of a woman in  tribal headgear. She&#;s beautiful and has an aura of mystery surrounding her.


4. Clear Eyes

There is so much clarity to the eyes in this picture. They are stunning.


5. Skull Tattoos

This skull has a tribal headdress on and it&#;s shown from the side angle. If you want something badass then try this design.


6. White Tattoos

White tattoos are great because they just pop off the skin, even if you have pale skin. They are unique designs.


7. Soaring Eagle

The eagle is a popular choice for a Native American tattoo, and the coloring is amazing.


8. Tribal Girl

Another great design of a girl with tribal wear. This one has a lot of detail and colors to it.


9. Mysterious Woman

A great tattoo design of a woman in tribal wear, she looks mysterious like she has a secret sadness to her.


Women and Eagles

Another great tattoo design that you are sure to love. Women in Tribal Headdresses are very popular designs. This one has an eagle with it as well.


Arm Band

If you want tattooed jewelry on your arm, then try this design out.


Seductive Gaze

Another great example of the popular tattoo design. If you are looking for a female presence then you will love this one.


Few Feathers

She is wearing more of a headband with feathers than a headdress, but there is a lot of beautiful jewelry with it.


The Side View

A great tattoo design that is all about the unique elements of the Native tradition.


Detailed Skull

This badass tattoo has a lot of detail, and I love the fact that there are so many feathers.


The Weathered Face

This is the look of someone who has a lot of wisdom and some serious knowledge to impart.


Geometric Designs

If you like the popular geometric tattoos, then you can incorporate Tribal elements into it like this one.


Beautiful Scenery

The great thing about the Native American culture is they are always trying to preserve nature and the environment in general. This is a stunning depiction of that passion for the earth.


Back Tattoos

If you are looking for a large tattoo, then you are sure to love this badass Tribal design.


Dark Designs

I love this design because it&#;s tough and fierce with great coloring and awesome detail.


Wolf Designs

The wolf has always been a popular design choice for Native tattoos, and this one has geometric elements in it as well.


Leg Tattoos

These are rather large tattoo designs that cover both legs. If you want a lot of tattooing, you should consider these.


Bold Colors

Another great example of a female inspired tattoo, this one with bold colors.



Tribal turtles tattoos are always cute and can be placed anywhere on the body.


The Arrow

A small and simple design that still has cultural meaning to it.


Detailed Arrow

If you are looking for an arrow tattoo, then this one is beautifyully detailed. A stunning and creative design.



Another great example of the female inspired tattoo but this one has a dreamcatcher in it.


Tribal Bracelet

A great tribal bracelet if you are looking for jewelry tattoos.


Wrist Dreamcatcher

A great dreamcatcher tattoo that fits nicely on the wrist. It looks like an ink drawing with the deep black coloring.


Tiger Head

A great design with plenty of detail. The headress, in this case, is the tigers head, from a hunt.



Bears Head

Another example of the female with a headdress, in this case, it&#;s a bears head. I love the tribal makeup that she wears.


Feather Design

This is a truly unique Tribal design with feathers. There are so many different kinds throughout the design that it makes for a beautiful tattoo.


Multiple Dreamcatchers

An elegant design that has two dreamcatchers trailing down the back. It&#;s a stunning design.


The Lone Wolf

The sunglasses add a bit of humor to the tattoo as well as some color. If you want a tribal design but want to add some of your sense of humor to it then try out this design.


Beautiful Black and White

A great tattoo design that is stunning to look at. I love the headband that she wears as well.


Finger Tattoos

A simple headdress that fits snugly on the finger.


Dark Skull

If you are looking for a dark design then consider this skull with a headdress.


Cartoon Teepee

This fun design will really make you smile. It has everything you need for a cartoon scenery including the planet Saturn. The colors are very Tribal as well.


Sketchy Designs

This Tribal tattoo looks like a pencil drawing. It&#;s very detailed and original if you want a traditional piece.


Geometric Arrow

Another geometric tattoo but this one is in the form of an arrow. It&#;s another popular tribal design idea.


Tribal Art

Tribal art tattoos are very popular for people who want to express their Native American heritage. They are fun designs that really stand out.


Feather Love

This dreamcatcher has a lot of feather elements to it. You can be very creative with dreamcatcher tattoos.


Simple Arrow

Arrow designs don&#;t have to be big and elaborate. This one is simple and elegant, and it sits in the middle of her back. It&#;s amazing.


Dot Designs

These tattoos are growing in popularity. As you can see the features are created with a series of dots. A great looking tattoo design that has an original side to it.


Hand Art

Tribal designs on the hand are a great way of expressing the passion you have for your culture.


Geometric TeePee

This great design is created through geometric shapes, in this case, the focal point is the TeePee.



Tribal Makeup

A great and colorful design that shows the true Native traditions when it comes to clothing and makeup.


Tiny Feathers

A great feature tattoo that can be tucked away behind the ear. It&#;s a great design for someone who wants something subtle.


Striking Beauty

This Native girl is stunningly beautiful, and there are so many gorgeous elements to the tattoo that bring the whole look together.




The buffalo skull is another traditional design when it comes to tribal tattoos. It&#;s also a tougher look if you want something different.


Fierce Warrior

This detailed drawing tattoo is striking. It&#;s a sign of honor and pride when a warrior can showcase the head of the animal they killed, in this case it&#;s the bear.


Bright Designs

If you are looking for a design that is colorful then why not try out this cartoon tattoo? It&#;s bright and beautiful.


Wolf Head

This creative design is certainly original. If you want something creative then this wolf head has a sort of flow to it. I love the overall look and coloring of the tattoo.


Colorful Feather

I love this simple design because of the pretty colors involved. It&#;s not overdone; it&#;s just elegant and beautiful.


Nautical Coordinates

These arrows are part of a tattoo that is all about travel. Maybe it was a place you travelled to that you want to remember or maybe something as simple as the location of your wedding.


The Lion

This stunning design has the lion wearing the headdress. It&#;s a unique idea that has a lot of detail to it.


Unique Dreamcatcher

This dreamcatcher is very structured like the geometric designs. It&#;s perfect in the sense that there are no mistakes, it&#;s not random.


Bird Jewel

The beautiful blue jewel is one that you are sure to love, and it&#;s inserted inside the bird.


Many Designs

I love this geometric design because it&#;s so unique. There are many different elements that pull the whole design together.


Positive Message

These feathers are part of a positive message design. It&#;s a great way to remind yourself of what you are moving towards.


Sexy Woman

Are unique tribal design that has a bare-breasted woman wielding an ax. It covers the entire back if you are looking for a unique design.


Arm Designs

If you are looking for an arm tattoo, then this simple dreamcatcher is a great idea.


Heart and Arrow

A simplistic design that shows the love for your culture and heritage.


Pretty As a Painting

These beautiful colors that look great together, almost like a painting. These ice blue eyes are stunning.


Powerful Tattoo

This skull tattoo design is truly terrifying if you want a badass design. I love the dark coloring with the red.


Comic Designs

If you are looking for a fun design, then you are sure to love this one. It&#;s creative, and the girl is busty and tough.


Super Creativity

I love the detail in this design because it&#;s really beautiful. You can tell by the look on her face that she&#;s in deep thought over something.


Beautiful Designs

I love the blue and the red together; it creates a stunning look. This design is original and wonderful.


Shooting an Arrow

Shooting an arrow through the moon, this design is original and simple.


Scratchy Arrows

I love these designs because they are sketchy and originals. The burst of colors throughout really make the overall look pop.


Tie Up The Arrows

A couple of arrows together that are tied up. A great overall design that is sure to make anyone happy.


Creative Colors

I love these bright colors that really show off a different kind of feather. It&#;s beautiful and unique.


Simple Arrow

One arrow that fits snugly on the arm. It&#;s a simple design that you are sure to love.


Once you have your design picked out all you have to do now is to find a talented artist to do the job for you. You must do your research to ensure that you have an artist that can do a great job. The last thing you want is to have regrets about the tattoo you chose because the job wasn&#;t done correctly. If you want a tattoo that you can treasure forever then don&#;t go cheap and make sure your artist has a portfolio and some experience. Once the tattoo is complete make sure that you do proper after care on the tattoo to ensure that it lasts as long as possible. A tattoo can be ruined if it&#;s not cared for properly.

We hope you enjoyed the article and please feel free to comment on your favorite design.


How Native American Tattoos Influenced the Body Art Industry

An exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library exploring years of tattooing in New York City begins with Native American tattoos and how the Indigenous Peoples of New York influenced the tattoo industry.

Native American tattoos are rich in artistry. They also are rich in meaning, explains a placard labeled The Power of Tattoos at the New York Historical Society. The Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and other nations in what is now New York believed tattoos had healing powers, applying them over sore joints or broken bones. Tattoos also were marks of protection, with symbols representing guardian spirits, or Manitous. Because everyone&#x;s life story is unique, their tattoos were unique.

Among the earliest items featured in the Tattooed New York exhibition are the New-York Historical Society&#x;s Four Indian Kings mezzotints from , which feature portraits of Mohawk and Mohican tribal leaders who traveled to London seeking military aid against the French and their Ojibwe allies.


Gawkers lined London&#x;s streets. Queen Anne held a reception at St. James&#x;s Palace. Everyone in England, it seemed, wanted to glimpse the three Mohawks and one Mohican popularly known as the &#x;Four Indian Kings,&#x; another section of the historical society's presentation explains. To the British, the four chiefs were an exotic curiosity, simultaneously praised and scorned as &#x;noble savages.&#x; The portraits of them are by John Verelst, those and later prints of the paintings are some of the earliest images showing Native American tattoos. Sa Ga Yeath Qua Pieth Tow, who was chief of the Maquas (or Mohawks) is seen in the portrait with black linear patterns covering his chest and lower face.

Visitors to the historical society can also see a pictograph by a Seneca trader that shows his distinctive serpent and bird tattoos, which were his personal signature. According to information presented in the exhibit, after the arrival of Europeans, the Iroquois, often signed documents by drawing their unique tattoos. But, as the exhibit information points out, images of early Native Americans and their body art are seen through a European lens. Those images were often skewed by an eagerness to sensationalize exotic &#x;savages&#x; or embellished to excite readers and increase book sales, notes a placard at the exhibit.

Early Native American tattoos were created by scratching or pricking the skin with sharpened bones, branches, or needles and then rubbing soot or crushed minerals into the wound. Many Native American tattoos celebrated accomplishments. While warriors&#x; tattoos were often featured not only on their bodies, but on the weapons they carried.

Another early item on display at the historical society is a midth century Ojibwe ball club. The carvings on this war club include a panther, three fish, a longer zigzag serpent design, and a tally of either engagements or those killed in battle.

Not only does Tattooed New York begin with Native American tattoos, it walks visitors through a timeline of body art aficionados&#x;such as sailors and soldiers, society women, and tattooed ladies &#x;and it examines how identity is expressed through tattooing today.

The exhibit also follows the evolution of tattoo technology, beginning with the pricking and poking techniques used for early Native American tattoos to machines, like the electric pen created by Thomas Edison in

Native influences can be seen throughout the exhibit, such as in Ruth Marten&#x;s collection of Marquesan Heads from She borrowed her imagery from both Western and Polynesian traditions and set up a tattoo studio in her apartment.

Other Native influences can be seen in Native American tattoos&#x;though getting inked with a stereotypical Indian in a headdress will not win you any fans in Indian country, it continues to be popular, and was shown in the exhibit throughout the years. The Indian in a headdress shows up on a number of flash sheets, which were used by 19th century tattoo artists to speed up the process. Customers could browse through flash sheets of pre-drawn artwork featuring simple designs.

If tattooing started with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, how did the practice of body art get to where it is today? Having a tattoo is becoming more and more mainstream. Approximately 29 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo according to a Harris Poll, and there are more than tattoo studios across just the five boroughs of New York City.

According to the information provided in the exhibit, Captain James Cook introduced the Tahitian word tautau to England after traveling to the South Pacific in the s, and many Americans discovered tattooing after reading Typee by Herman Melville, in which he describes his visit to Polynesia.

Tattooed New York begins and ends with some Native American tattoos and artwork. In , the Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York featured Indian Ink: Iroquois & The Art of Tattoos, and one of the final pieces shown in the New York City exhibit is a piece by Alex Jacobs, an ICMN contributor. The piece, titled Kanienkehake: People of the Flint shows his fabric collage technique, a piece purchased by the Iroquois Indian Museum.

The exhibition will be on display at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library in New York City through April


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A Handy Guide For White People To Not Do Racist Stuff in

I had to go to this party. A friend of a friend was performing magic at this rich white dude’s 50th birthday extravaganza. The rich dude rented out half of a lame suburban bar, invited all of his pals to dress up and drown themselves in Bud Light while doing that weird arm swinging, hip rocking dance white people love. There was even an 80s hair metal cover band. 

Aside from the fact that I wanted to hang myself, I look across the bar, past the fat guy dressed as pilled out Elvis, just beyond the guy dressed as the captain of the Love Boat, and land on a woman in a headdress. This was not an el-cheapo from Party City, but definitely handmade. She had this hanging around the house, you don’t casually grab a headdress just for shits and giggles. While I get that she was trying to pull off a "sexy Village People '' with her girls, it's wack. 

Wearing a headdress is not cool. Please don't do it. No matter how much Jameson I tried to swallow, I couldn’t shake how bad this was and no one was like, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING KIM?” Instead, everyone was too busy off timed foot-stomping to Van Halen’s “Panama” played by some nerd with fake tattoo sleeves and an Axl Rose costume. This was not my ideal Saturday night. And I’m supposed to be into this, I’m a regular-ass white dude.

You know what I hoped for, ever since people started showing up at Coachella in headdresses? That people would collectively get their shit together. Wearing a headdress promotes stereotyping indigenous culture as something that gives a perception of cultural power. Hollywood manufactured the image of the warbonnet as a means to cartoonify a people via a traditional means of ceremony dress. They saw something that looked powerful and slapped it on every character actor and went with it for generations. 

Indigenous people aren't walking around ceremonial gear every day. They do wear regular clothes. Don’t wear the headdress, not now, not ever. Especially at Chad or whoever’s birthday throwdown at “Woody’s.”

Apparently, I’m an idiot for thinking such fanciful things. 

There are a megaton of awful people roaming like free-range cattle without that invisible social “I probably shouldn’t say or do this blatantly racist shit” but they do and they’re usually a dude named Travis, rocking a pair of Oakleys behind the wheel of his F, too busy ranting into his iPhone about freedom to notice he’s about to mow down some kid crossing the street, also staring deep into the void if their smartphone.

The thing is racism is woven into the fabric of America. You don’t even have to look all that hard. Just flip on ESPN. 

Sports fans don't even try. There's no defensible argument: Native American mascots are seriously fucked up. Let's start with the professional teams: 

  • Kansas City Chiefs

  • Atlanta Braves

  • Washington Redskins

  • Cleveland Indians

  • Chicago Blackhawks

None of these get a cultural pass. Not one.  

Then there are college teams like the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, and then there are a bazillion high schools and middle schools using Native heritage as a battle cry on the football field. All of these teams reinforce stereotypes. That's it. The name "Redskins" is awful, and no one on this side of the ball thinks it's a forgivable sin. The idea of warriors moving into battle is poetic and powerful, but not on the back of an entire people’s identity. 

Whatever way you’re trying to justify history or culture or whatever, just don’t. The Cleveland Indians celebrating “Chief Wahoo” with a big shit-eating grin is pretty gross. Do you remember the old Braves logo? The one with the dude screaming with a mohawk? Not a good look, folks. The Atlanta Honkies or the Washington Missionaries (Not the religious people.) doesn’t exactly sound awesome, it sounds predatory. 

Photo courtesy of Shelf Life Clothing

Please stop saying this. It's a false narrative. It's a cultural cliché rooted in social dominance and weird ideas about high cheekbones. This is such a thing; it's even got a name: "Cherokee Syndrome." 

Back in the census, over K people said they had Cherokee blood. Well, here's the thing about that… The combined population of the three Cherokee tribes (the Cherokee Nation and United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee in Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee in North Carolina) has less than K people listed on their official tribal scrolls. 

I get the allure. If your heritage is bland-ass Europeans who rolled over on a boat, what's not to love about the mythology of people surviving on their guts and ability to tame a hard land? The long, raven hair, badasses doing badass stuff. Chances are though, it's low key white guilt, seeking something more in-depth than square dancing, non-spicy eating, cargo shorts-loving whiteness. 

Kim TallBear, a professor of Native Studies at the University of Alberta, says there are no genetic markers of Native ancestry. She even wrote a book about it: Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Sense of Genetic Science.Tallbear states that tribal membership is legal, not genetic. Her research says that it's impossible to find a common thread that untangled the Gordian knot that are family history, reservation timelines, and tribal affiliations.

TallBear wrote, "Because we are all genetically related, there are no tribe-specific markers, i.e., no Cherokee, Pequot, or Lakota markers." There is no gene. "It's not about what identity you claim," TallBear said in , "it's about who claims you." if you're not on tribal scrolls and aren't a part of the community, you're a regular-ass white person, just like me. And if you can get a tan, that is a genetic thing, but not like a tribe’s history. 

Finally, let's do a little schooling on naming conventions. When referring to America's literal first people, use indigenous. It's easier, it works in the broad context, and everyone is on board with that one. Every specific person will have their own take on cultural ownership of what to say, but indigenous is safe on all fronts. 

And honestly, if you don’t know something, ask. Seek out indigenous people, learn their culture, their stories, their struggles. Get a different perspective than what’s in the textbooks we read in school. 

Don’t be the jerk in the headdress, don’t buy tie-dyed shirts with wolves and chiefs on them, don’t pretend your sports team isn’t super racist. If you’re going to be an asshole at a party, down half a bottle of Jameson and get kicked out for peeing in the fire pit like the rest of us.

Current affairsRobert DeanRacism, teachable moment, National Congress of American Indians, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves

Significance of the Native American Headdress

It turned out that he plays the guitar, like me and together we love tennis. two weeks later, Sanya invited me to meet. Of course, I agreed. We walked together at the school song and in the evenings, he gave me flowers.

Now discussing:

Seeing a half-naked adult woman standing with cancer on sports mats and three bearded Caucasians with uncovered members, the boy froze. It seemed to me that even his jaw dropped slightly. He narrowed his eyes slightly to focus his vision and make sure that what he saw was true. Ahmed came up to me and slapped my left buttock with a sweeping slap so that a red palm print remained on it, and.

Then called Rasul with an invitation gesture.

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