John Hickenlooper’s “red face” controversy is not going away as members of the Eastern Shoshone are now demanding an apology from Hickenlooper, according to Wyoming Public Media.
Hickenlooper has consistently refused to apologize for dressing up as a Native American woman and wearing a war bonnet at the Wyoming One Shot Antelope Hunt, telling Colorado Public Radio (CPR) he only wore the headdresses at the behest of the hunt’s organizer, Chief Arlen Shoyo:
Both Shoyo and Karen Snyder with the Eastern Shoshone Business Council told Wyoming Public Media Hickenlooper’s excuse was false, as wearing the headdresses was both voluntary and unsanctioned by the tribe.
Snyder said Hickenlooper has done “great harm” to the Eastern Shoshone and has failed to take responsibility for his actions:
“I would think that he could say that he recognizes that it’s a misstep and apologize,” Snyder said. “[And say] he now understands who we are as people, how we treat our women, and the honor and privilege of wearing a war bonnet. I would think there would be an apology.”
Snyder also blasted Hickenlooper for making a “mockery” of their culture by dressing up as an indigenous woman, a sentiment echoed by Native Americans across the country says the Denver Post:
“It looks like he’s playing along with other non-Native men, making fun of and mocking Native women,” said Crystal Echo Hawk, a Coloradan and CEO of IllumiNative, a nonprofit which combats negative narratives and stereotypes about Natives in media. “It is so deeply hurtful at a time when we are, as Native people, dealing with an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.”
Keith Michael Harper, a member of Democratic National Committee and the first Native American to be appointed a U.S. ambassador, called it “a very bad look” for Hickenlooper on Twitter. And the Association of American Indian Affairs shared criticisms of Hickenlooper on its social media accounts as well.
Even the Hickenlooper campaign’s own surrogate, Ernest House, Jr., who once served as executive director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs, told CPR he didn’t agree with Hick’s decision to wear the headdresses:
I don’t agree with anybody wearing tribal headdresses or any type of cultural misappropriation if it’s not already approved by the tribal elders, that’s a very important matter.
CPR removed House Jr.’s criticism within minutes after the Hickenlooper campaign embarrassingly argued the interview was “on background.”
The reignition of this controversy couldn’t come at a worse time for Hickenlooper, with Gov. Polis set to establish a public renaming commission and the Washington Redskins officially retiring their mascot. Native activists previously launched a #DropOutHick campaign in the Democrat primary after the photos and videos surfaced in June.
It’s unclear if Hickenlooper will actually apologize to the Eastern Shoshone. Given his reluctance to offer an apology to voters for his illegal behavior as governor, let’s just say we aren’t holding our breath.