The Europeans Who Would Be Native American - OZY | A Modern Media Company

The Europeans Who Would Be Native American

By Jen Osborne


Because cultural appropriation has become a mainstream conversation.

You might say it’s an unusual pastime. And nearly 2,000 people attend the German camp. It’s not the only one, but it’s by far the largest in Europe — people come from Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to take part. Meet Europe’s Native American hobbyists.

From 2011 until 2015, Jen Osborne, a Canadian living in Berlin, photographed this elusive subculture all over Europe and in Russia. The subjects in her series, she says, are not “ethnically” First Nation, but rather “Europeans who use cultural mirroring, as practiced heavily in the 1960s and ’70s, to claim Indianness.” Osborne says it’s also a means of declaring sympathy with Native Americans. According to the photographer, the hobby was once used as a form of psychological escape from Iron Curtain dictatorships. Because this “deeply private” subculture is still present today, says Osborne, “I wanted to explore whether imitation is flattery.”


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