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Redface is the term being used by some to describe the wearing of feathers, warpaint, etc. by non-natives which perpetuate American Indian stereotypes, analogous to the wearing of Blackface.[1] In the early twentieth century, it was often Jewish performers, coping with their own limited access to mainstream society, who adopted blackface or redface.[2] In the early days of television sitcoms, "non-Native sitcom characters donned headdresses, carried tomahawks, spoke broken English, played Squanto at Thanksgiving gatherings, received "Indian" names, danced wildly, and exhibited other examples of representations of redface".[3]

The copying from minority cultures by members of a dominant culture is cultural appropriation, which is not universally viewed as a negative activity with regard to "artistic borrowing".[4] However, redface has been used to describe non-native adoption of indigenous culture, no matter how sympathetic, such as the painters in the Taos Society of Artists during the early 20th Century portraying themselves in their own works wearing native clothing.[5]

While now often associated with the behavior of sports fans for teams with Native American names or mascots,[6] redface also includes other instances such as "Indian" Halloween costumes, or headdresses as a fashion accessory.[7]

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  1. ^ The Associated Press (March 17, 2019). "Native Americans say movement to end 'redface' is slow". The Oregonian.
  2. ^ Peter Antelyes (2009). "Haim Afen Range: The Jewish Indian and the Redface Western". MELUS. Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. 34 (3): 15–42. doi:10.1353/mel.0.0047. JSTOR 40344855.
  3. ^ Dustin Tahmahkera (2008). "Custer's Last Sitcom: Decolonized Viewing of the Sitcom's "Indian"". American Indian Quarterly. University of Nebraska Press. 32 (3): 324–351. doi:10.1353/aiq.0.0012. JSTOR 25487882.
  4. ^ Young, James O. (2010). Cultural Appropriation and the Arts. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 156. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  5. ^ John Ott (2009). "Reform in Redface: The Taos Society of Artists Plays Indian". American Art; the University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. 23 (2): 80–107. doi:10.1086/605710. JSTOR 10.1086/605710.
  6. ^ Erik Brady (July 21, 2014). "Native American activists seek to eliminate 'redface'". USA TODAY Sports.
  7. ^ Adrienne J. Keene, EdD (November 1, 2010). "Native Appropriations: Paris Hilton as a "Sexy Indian"". Retrieved October 16, 2015.

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