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AnotherAnother magazine cover equals another case of perfunctory cultural appropriation. AnOther magazine, a biannual fashion and lifestyle publication based in Britain, is under fire for decking actress Michelle Williams in full American Indian regalia for their latest issue.

The Oz the Great and Powerful starlet is in complete media blitz for the movie, so she’s been featured in several magazine spreads. Posing as an American Indian should’ve alarmed her inner hipster immediately or at least raised questions from her management. Your face is painted red. You’re wearing a braided wig and a feather. Nobody was outraged enough to question or contextualize this?

Americans Indians have been brutalized, mistreated and isolated in their own native homestead. Baseball teams donned official logo caps with historically-controlling stereotypical images of the culture for decades. But of course this is appropriate because we’re in a post-racial society where history is nothing more than nostalgic formality.

AnOther is attempting to justify its blatant appropriation of American Indian culture by explaining the spread’s concept. According to the magazine, Williams was “transform[ed] into eight imaginary characters” to align with the issue’s theme, “There’s No Place Like Home,” an ode to “The Wizard of Oz.” However, American Indians are not characters and their homes were stripped from them by colonialists lusting for wealth and power. The history of Indian appropriation deserves documentaries and systemic reform, not a caricature on a magazine cover.

Lexi Nisita, a writer for Refinery 29, also points out the historical implications of “There’s No Place Like Home” cover line:

“[It’s] actually very pointed in this instance, given the fact that thousands of Native Americans were forcefully ousted from their homes (not to mention slaughtered and denied full rights of citizenship) when European settlers came to this continent,” she wrote. “The line is, of course, a reference to Ms. Williams’ recent role in Oz The Great And Powerful, but if that’s all they meant, they should have just dressed her up as Dorothy.”

And let’s not forget The Wizard of Oz series author L. Frank Baum’s blatant hatred toward American Indians and support of their “annihilation.”

He wrote in an 1890 editorial for his newspaper, the Saturday Pioneer:

“The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.”

It was written mere weeks before 153 Sioux Indians were killed at Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota. Baum also penned several subsequent editorials praising the killing of Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Sioux leader and calling for continuous slaughtering of American Indians.

Appropriating Indian culture matters, especially when their customs and rituals have been disregarded as invaluable for centuries. Western civilization has established such disrespect for American Indians that AnOther magazine thinks this cover is justifiable, marketable and acceptable.

Pull the cover. Apologize. And realize how incongruous, offensive and discriminatory photo shoots appropriating other cultures is.

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  • Wow…I did not know that about Baum. That makes this whole cultural appropriation thing so much worse than what it is.

    I don’t understand the point of it. What’s the point of her dressing like a Native American if you are promoting the Wizard of Oz?

  • One thing I am learning is that just because oppression or offenses may be experienced by another culture, does not mean that I should be any less concerned. It’s hard to care about racial issues outside of the Black/White dichotomy, but I’m going to try to challenge myself to care when issues present themselves in other marginalized communities.

  • WhatIThink

    Well considering that most native Americans were of color (ie. black folks), this article makes perfect sense. And the appropriation also makes sense. White supremacy at its core is all about eradicating and replacing people of color on the planet and replacing them with half breeds or white imitations….. it has been going on for centuries.

    • T.

      Your comment confuses me, because I don’t know why you’re using the past tense in referring to Native Americans. It’s not like Native Americans have gone extinct or something. There are millions of them in North America.

      And if the past tense is because you’re speaking historically, all Native Americans were of colour, not just “some” (though there has been a lot of mixing since Columbus and the Pilgrim Fathers and what have you). It wasn’t like there were some Native Americans who were white people and some who weren’t. I mean, the colour of their skin is one of the reasons they used to be referred to as “Red Indians”.

  • Chic Noir

    Anything for a little controversy aka attention. Michelle is a major movie star, this is pathetic.

    • Val

      I agree, Chic. This stuff happens so much that I truly believe they are doing it hoping for the uproar that’s sure to follow, just to get attention.

    • LKJ

      I couldn’t agree more. They say or do something wildly offensive and there is an uproar. During the uproar they get a lot of attention for whatever they are promoting. An apology is eventually issued and the (white) mainstream media forgives them and moves on.

      This works for the person/group/company that said the offensive thing because they got a lot of free publicity during the uproar and now people who had not heard of them before are aware of them.

      Personally I had never heard of AnOther magazine before this.

    • True! But I wonder why Michelle W. didn’t say anything personally I would have said no at the concept. The spread didn’t make any semse plain and simple.These people don’t care and do things like this willingly for press and controversy because it draws attention regardless if it is good or bad.

  • Deb

    They’d never put an ACTUAL native american on the cover (unless they maybe passed for white and even then chances would be extra slim)

    • CCN

      I find that even within the Native American identity certain nations promote, more , member of prominent European ancestry and white phenotypes. The the current chief of the Cherokee tribe is white looking with only 1/32 Cherokee ancestry. But they readily kick out members of African descent.

      When this type of thing happens it makes issues like this trivial.

      The same thing happens with blacks, as in the recent “African Queen’ fiasco…Why complain of someone like Soledad O’Brien is supposed to be Black.

      The One Drop Rule was put in place to destroy human biodiversity and human phenotype diversity.

      This is why I wish the One Drop Rule would really, officially, be put the rest and that certain labels be reserved for those who have prominent blood quantums (above 75%) of aboriginal, first nation, non-European Caucasian and/ or minority lineages.

      Because, the reality is that these bloodlines can be reduced to producing people who are phenotypically White, which does not fairly represent Native Americans, let alone Blacks. To choose a white face over one that better represents the original phenotype of a people that are marginalized, formerly enslaved, those driven into genocide, to me is a form of gloating by the Anglo-Saxon, European-White community.

    • Kam

      The Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma has no blood quantum enrollment, only lineal descent, which is why you’ll find more Natives that look European. The other Cherokee bands are the Eastern Band which I think requires at least 1/16th or the Keetowah band which requires 1/4. Lighter skinned/mixed natives do get a lot of flack and Cherokees get teased A LOT by other Native groups. There are other tribes that have many members mixed with Black like the Pequots, Poospatuck, Shinnecock and Wampanoag.