Fake Indians in France

Princess Fakes Princess

Princess Fakes Princess

We spent the weekend curled up by the fire, sipping coffee and searching for French hotels and phrase-books in preparation for our trip to Paris.

When my honey reaches for a cup or the soap, he asks me to translate the word en francais and I do my best to brush off the dust in my mind and recall years of French lessons.

Tasse is cup. Savon is soap.

Then he wants to know the word for ass. Once he has memorized cul, he uses it with extraordinary ease, admiring the cul on the youthful waitress and asking if he can “tirer un mot de mon cul?”

We lack the savoir faire to distinguish the subtleties of language—I’m afraid that, when spoken, cul may be quite rude—and we decide to check with the local denizens before sharing our new-found vocabulary in public.

Today, however, I found the French themselves lack savoir faire when it comes to American Indian sensibilities.

In our quest to fit into the Parisian venues, honey and I checked online the magazine Paris Match, sifting through images to acquaint ourselves with local life.

Up pops a picture of a woman in Indian drag: chicken feathers stuck to her head and red lines smeared on her face.

Turns out the photos are of Princess Charlotte, fifth in line for the throne in Monaco: one of the four children of Caroline, who is the daughter of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier.

Paris Match has a regular column on the website devoted to the royals and snapped a photo of Charlotte at an equestrian event where she and her horse were decked out in faux Indian garb.

The article notes that Charlotte, the “beautiful Indian” chose a “Western theme and wore a delightful costume.”

Reminds me of the Halloween costumes of my youth, where regalia could be constructed from crayons, glue and construction paper.

And while most folks didn’t think twice about fake Indians in the 1950s, I thought Indians had made more headway with stereotyped images in the 2000s.

Here’s the link: http://www.parismatch.com/Royal-Blog/Monaco/Photos/Charlotte-belle-Indienne-pour-l-association-de-sa-mere/Belle-Indienne-449747/

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About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. She is enrolled with the Osage tribe.
This entry was posted in american indian, authenticity, ethics, Indian, journalism, native american, Native Science and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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