Opinion

Carolina Castoreno: It's time for America to stop playing Indian






YouTube: Emerson Windy - Peace Pipe

Carolina Castoreno calls on hip-hop artist Emerson Windy to remove his "Peace Pipe" video from YouTube:
A couple of days ago I became aware of an up and coming rapper known as Emerson Windy. Now I may be late to show, but many who know me know this. I am an avid fan of Hip Hop. I love conscious rap, neo-soul, and street poetry. But I loathe what has happened to the rap game in recent years thanks to the likes of Lil Wayne and the Young Money crew, as well as 2 Chainz and their other consorts. They have co-opted a beloved form of art and desecrated it. And it comes as no surprise that the aforementioned “artists” (and I use the term loosely) have collaborated with this Emerson Windy fellow, another “artist” who will now be known for his desecration of Native culture.

“Peace Pipe” is the video that Emerson Windy released this week. In this video he is dressed in “indigenous attire” and raps about passing a peace pipe. Let’s start with the fact that Emerson mixes the regalia of a headman, medicine man, and a brave all together. Really Emerson, you wanted to be all three? Talk about an identity crisis. This is the problem with wanting to play dress up; people can’t even get that part right. If you wanted to portray a football player, would you also carry a baseball bat or a hockey stick? Why in 2014 is it still trendy to put on “Indian” costumes? But then again, just go to any typical Midwestern Pow Wow, and all you will see are non-Natives in costumes. That’s another issue we need to address in Indian Country, but I digress.

So you want play Indian? You want “smoke ‘em good peace pipe?” Please, pile on the stereotypes. A peace pipe is not a recreational tool to give you a good buzz. The pipe is a gift from our Mother Earth to be used ceremoniously only. It is not a plaything. When you portray it as just another vehicle for getting high, you perpetuate the negative imagery that society paints on Natives, that we are all drunks and like to “smoke peyote.” News flash, we don’t smoke it. What you are doing is equivalent to someone using a rosary or prayer beads in a sacrilegious manner. It demeans our spiritual beliefs.

Get the Story:
Carolina Castoreno: Put Down the Peace Pipe and Step Out of the Costumes (Indian Country Today 5/24)

Also Today:
Emerson Windy on 'Peace Pipe' Video: 'It Was My Decision, My Mistake' (Indian Country Today 5/20)