Music festivals have always been about more than just the music. The art, the community, and most notably, the fashion, go down in festival history right alongside the acts that perform. Between saving up money for a ticket and making it home in one piece, packing your bag of outfits for the weekend can be the most stressful part.
Osheaga is making the decision a tad easier by banning one accessory that’s been surprisingly common at music festivities—the native headdress.
The Montreal music and arts festival, which is taking place from July 31st to August 2nd, sent out an announcement on Monday banning attendees from wearing headdresses to this year’s event. “The First Nations Headdresses have a spiritual and cultural meaning in the native communities and to respect and honor their people, Osheaga asks fans and artists attending the festival to not use this symbol as a fashion accessory,” the post reads.
Like the controversial trend of the bindi, cultural appropriation of First Nations attire has been prevalent at most North American music festivals in recent years. Métis activist, Chelsea Vowel, described why wearing this item of clothing is disrespectful in her open letter to non-Native individuals.
“Unless you are a native male from a Plains nation who has earned a headdress, or you have been given permission to wear one (sort of like being presented with an honorary degree), then you will have a very difficult time making a case for how wearing one is anything other than disrespectful,” she writes.
Not only are activists and festival organizers discouraging this ignorant fashion trend, but musical acts have reached out to fans as well. A Tribe Called Red openly thanked their audience at this year’s Coachella for not wearing headdresses to their performance.
David Guetta, on the other hand, was recently criticized for headlining the “F**k Me I’m Famous” party series at Pacha nightclub in Ibiza, which has both culturally appropriated and hyper-sexualized native attire. The Native American theme of the series is complete with headdresses, totem poles, dreamcatchers and half-naked women in face paint and buckskin.
Social media users shared promotional photos and videos of the party series thousands of times to criticize the racist theme.
Osheaga’s announcement was released just weeks before their 10th anniversary event at Parc Jean-Drapeau. Other Canadian festivals, such as ÎleSoniq in Montreal and the Bass Coast Festival in B.C. have also made moves to ban headdresses.
“We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets,” read a statement released by Bass Coast organizers last year. “They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated.”