The blowback is just beginning for Dior after it released an ad for its “Sauvage” perfume featuring Native American imagery.
The new video, posted on social media Friday, features Native American dancer Canku One Star, an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, performing what an Instagram post described as “the mesmerizing Fancy War Dance that embodies all the modernity of the Native American culture.”
“Sauvage” is a French word meaning “wild” or “savage” ― a slur for Native Americans.
Johnny Depp is part of a new campaign for the scent, and a 10-second video of One Star teased a Sept. 1 announcement for “an authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory.”
Dior did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Laura Harris, the executive director of Americans for Indian Opportunity, an organization that worked with Dior on the ad, said she understands why the Dior campaign is controversial. But, she added, “the [Sauvage] name is the name and they weren’t going to change it.”
The organization’s mission, according to its website, is to advance the cultural, political and economic rights of Indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world. Harris says it made sure Native American actors, artists and staff worked on the Dior project, something she says Depp insisted on as a condition of working on the campaign.
Harris, a citizen of the Comanche Nation, has known Depp since 2012 when he was preparing to play Tonto in the 2013 “Lone Ranger” reboot.
Her mother, LaDonna Harris, adopted Depp into the tribe in 2012, making him an honorary member, according to The Guardian.
She welcomes the controversy if it can raise awareness of the contemporary realities of Native Americans, such as a growing number of teen suicides combined with a low high school graduation rate.
But the controversy over this video may just be beginning based on people who have seen the full clip, which features Depp being spied on by a Native American woman.
The ad has been slammed by many Twitter users for using Native American culture to sell a French company’s perfume.
One person suggested books she felt Dior executives needed to read in order to appreciate the significance of their cultural appropriation.
Another asked a very pertinent question.