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Matching Mother-Daughter Indian Costumes Document Prevalence of Cultural Appropriation of the 1970s

Look at these highly-detailed matching mother-daughter costumes featuring a Native American / Native Peoples theme. Although this is completely taboo today, the photo documents the prevalence of cultural appropriation during the Gen X childhood years.

mother daughter homemade indian costumes in blue

Mothers and Daughters in the 1970s in homemade Indian costumes. Source: Laura Scott

Vintage La Habra, California

This is not the first time I’ve written about Native Americans and cultural appropriation in the 1970s. Click here to read a 2016 post about Native American Halloween costumes. A picture I first published in that post features fathers and sons in Native American costumes. Here is that picture, which was taken in 1977 in La Habra, California. (Source: David Beith).

Interestingly enough, the first picture of the mothers and daughters comes from a completely different source and year (1971), but was also taken in La Habra, California. I’ve done a little bit of research and I think the inspiration for the costumes was local branches of the YMCA, which reportedly organized group activities and identified volunteers as “Indian Guides.” They named the groups after popular Native American tribes such as the Navajo, Sioux (as the picture reveals) and Creek. The source for this information is the You Know You Grew Up in La Habra If… Facebook Group.

The “Indian Guides” ran the world famous corn dog stand at the La Habra Corn Festival every year. The festival has been around since 1947, but I don’t think the YMCA’s “Indian Guides” run the corn dog stand anymore.

Finally, for all the criticism Boomers get for being lousy parents and ignoring their kids, the effort put into these costumes tells a different story; one of engagement between mother and daughter, father and son. A story of community and celebration; tradition and memories. Cultural appropriation aside, of course.

girl in indian headdress cultural appropriation 1970s



Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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