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Celebrity Trick or Treat: Indian Costume Edition

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Another Halloween, another rash of racially insensitive costumes.

While it appears that awareness to "the costume issue" may be spreading, that didn't stop at least a couple of celebrities from playing Indian this year.

Of course, they're just a reflection of the culture -- America is soaking in the Indian-as-costume idea, everything from the Pocahottie to dog costumes confirming the notion that dressing up as an Indian is no different from dressing as a pirate. Never mind the fact that one is a race of people and the other is an occupation -- Halloween's just about having fun, isn't it?

For anyone who may not be familiar with this issue, we suggest watching a couple recent (and controversial) videos by the 1491s. But we'll also sum up the logic, which goes like this: If it's ok for a white person to pretend to be an Indian on Halloween, then it's ok to make a Halloween costume out of someone's race. And if it's ok to make a Halloween costume out of someone's race, then it's ok for a white person to pretend to be African American on Halloween. But American society has -- fortunately -- decided that it's not ok for a white person to pretend to be African American as a costume, and finds such representations as blackface to be racist and unacceptable.

And yet Indian costumes are still around. In fact, you can probably get a good deal on one, along with the sexy nurse, wolfman and Green Lantern getups currently going for half price at your local costume shop.

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We don't relish playing costume cops, but the issue won't go away. Every year, people in the public eye do this. And every year, when Natives try to explain why this isn't cool, why an Indian costume has a cultural and racial meaning that a pirate costume does not, the same arguments about political correctness run amok unfold. There is simply a massive failure to grasp the concept that trick-or-treating dressed as "an Indian" is as racist as trick-or-treating dressed as "an Asian" or "a black person."

So, joining the ranks of celebrity Indian impersonators like Russell Brand and Kourtney Kardashian, we have:

Aubrey O'Day
The ex-Danity Kane singer Tweeted the picture below with the caption "I'm a lil Indian girl for the festivities tonight! I made my entire costume, including headdress!"

Angel De Cora is seen here in the portrait that accompanies her essay “Native Indian Art” in Proceedings of the First Conference of the Society of American Indians, 1911. Her buckskin dress is Great Plains-style, not of her own Winnebago culture. (Courtesy Gustave Hensel/Carlisle Indian Industrial School/1907)

Angel De Cora is seen here in the portrait that accompanies her essay “Native Indian Art” in Proceedings of the First Conference of the Society of American Indians, 1911. Her buckskin dress is Great Plains-style, not of her own Winnebago culture. (Courtesy Gustave Hensel/Carlisle Indian Industrial School/1907)

River Viiperi
River is a model; he's also the boyfriend of Paris Hilton, who posted the photo below before the couple headed to the Halloween party at the Playboy Mansion. Paris famously wore a malfunction-prone Indian princess costume to the same party two years ago.

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. (Courtesy National Anthropological Archives/Smithsonian Institution)

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte was the first Native American woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. (Courtesy National Anthropological Archives/Smithsonian Institution)