Posted on 10.05.2016, 23.05.2016
When the average person think of an American Indian man, he usually pictures him as wearing a large eagle feather war bonnet. This stereotype has become so widespread that nowadays even the Indians themselves have taken it up, and members of tribes who never used the headgear in aboriginal times now wear it on occasions when white people expect them to "look like Indians". Much confusion exists, even among anthropologists, as to the symbolism, use and distribution of the various types of feathered bonnets worn by the Plains Indians.
Native American tribes consider the presentation of an eagle feather to be one of their highest marks of respect. Any honored person must have earned their feather through selfless acts of courage and honour, or been gifted them in gratitude for their work or service to their tribe. The esteem attached to eagle feathers was so high that in many cases, such as a warrior (e.g. Dog Soldiers of the Cheyenne), only two or three honour feathers might be awarded in their whole lifetime. Roman Nose, one of the most influential Cheyenne warriors, was known for his illustrious warbonnet that was said to protect him during battle.
Plains Indians normally use eagle feathers as the most significant part of the bonnet to represent honor and respect. Some Plains-style bonnet forms are the "horned" bonnet, "flaring" eagle feather bonnet, and the "fluttering feather" bonnet. The "horned" bonnet can consist of a buckskin skull cap, shaved bison or cow horns, and dyed horsehair with bunches of owl feathers beneath the skull cap. The "flaring" eagle feather bonnet is often made of golden eagle tail feathers connected to a buckskin or felt crown. There are slits at the base of the crown that allow the bonnet to have a "flaring" look.
The wearing of such headdresses by those who haven't earned them, especially by non-Natives, is offensive to many native peoples. The imitation of Native headdresses is seen as "the embodiment of cultural appropriation. ...donning a highly sacred piece of Native culture like a fashion accessory." The war bonnet as a contemporary fashion accessory perpetuates a lack of understanding of the postcolonial fate of Native groups across North America. “The ignorance of Americans regarding this is reflected in their misuse of our culture.” said Jacqueline Keeler, founder of EONM (Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry).
About the stamps
On the postcard 2538
The four stamps forms the series American Songwriters, issued on September 11, 1996. The series honors four of the finest songwriters of the 20th century. Featured are Harold Arlen (The Wizard of Oz and A Star is Born), Johnny Mercer (founder of Capitol Records, Moon River, etc.), Dorothy Fields (On the Sunny Side of the Street, The Way You Look Tonight, A Fine Romance), and Hoagy Carmichael (Stardust, Heart and Soul, Georgia on My Mind).
On the postcard 2571
The first stamp is part of the series Apples, about which I wrote here. The second stamp, depicting Robert Robinson Taylor, is part of the series Black Heritage Series, about which I wrote here. The last stamp is part of the definitives series American Design, about which I wrote here.
War Bonnet - Wikipedia
Plains Indian Feathered Bonnets, by James H. Howard
Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Native American Headdress - MTV News
Sender 2538, 2571: Denise
Sent from Jericho (New York / United States), on 10.11.2015
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 26.01.2016