Native American War Bonnets Banned At San Francisco's Outside Lands Music Festival

“We are committed to creating a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for all," explained organizers of upcoming event at Golden Gate Park.

The organizers of San Francisco’s popular Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park have banned Native American headdresses at the event.

Out of respect for Native American heritage and culture, we do not allow headdresses at Outside Lands,” organizers said in a statement to The San Francisco Chronicle Thursday. “We are committed to creating a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for all.”

The music event, which runs from Aug. 9-11, in the past has attracted more than 200,000 attendees. It will feature Childish Gambino, Counting Crows, Paul Simon, Lil Wayne, Blink-182, Kacey Musgraves and scores of others this year.

The war bonnet ban was hailed by Adrienne Keene, an assistant professor of American Studies at Brown University in Rhode Island whose social media sites call out “Native appropriations.” Keene objected to Outside Lands organizers’ use of the singular term “culture” in their statement, noting that there are hundreds of different Native American cultures. But she added in a tweet: “I’ll take it!” Keene has frequently lashed what she calls “hipster headdresses” that have become part of festival fashion.

Keene called out two women for wearing headdresses at the Coachella music festival in California two years ago. One of them apologized in response, saying: “I am all about love, peace and understanding. I’m human and I admit there are many things I’m still unaware of.”

The Bass Coast Festival in Canada, which is held on tribal lands, banned “all feathered war bonnets” in 2014. “We understand why people are attracted to war bonnets,” a festival statement said at the time. “They have a magnificent aesthetic. But their spiritual, cultural and aesthetic significance cannot be separated. Bass Coast Festival takes place on indigenous land and we respect the dignity of aboriginal people.”

Native American headdresses are among a long list of items prohibited at Outside Lands this year, including fireworks, threatening signs, umbrellas, strollers, drones, audio recording equipment and skateboards. But only the headdresses and “totems” are prohibited due to cultural sensitivity.

Something that might be encouraged at this year’s gathering: Pot. For the second year in a row, organizers are hosting “Grass Lands,” which was billed in 2018 as the “first curated cannabis experience at a major American music festival.” Last year music fans could smell samples and “snack on fresh-baked treats.” But the festival needs a permit from the city before marijuana can legally be sold and consumed on site — which organizers have applied for.

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