Inside the Native American Party UW Tried to Cancel
A party is a risk. Take a drink at a party, and you may quench your thirst or black out and wake up in the street. Make a pass at someone, and you might get rejected or wake up the next morning with him or her. Tease a stranger, and they'll become your best friend or maybe punch you in the face. The party I'm attending tonight took a risk and lost before it started. The invitation featured a caricature of a Native American, which (when someone put the invitation up on a UW listserv) landed the hosts in front of an unfriendly room of 50 people at a racial-sensitivity roundtable.
But the party goes on, and the tiny apartment is stuffed with people decked out in fake headdresses, mascara war paint, and Indian names (they name me "Drinks-for-Free," and "Ruins-the-Joke" and "Was-a-10-Now-a-6" are in attendance). It's supposed to be a joke—nearly everyone here recalls making these same fake headdresses in grade school. No one claims any native roots, but neither can they ignore the genocide our Thanksgiving myth glosses over. They claim that the party is supposed to mock the pervasive ignorance about Native American history we learned from our schools.
Enough drinks in and the party takes on the usual risks of flirtation, screaming angry neighbors, shots at the Irish, and bingeing. The racial satire has been forgotten. Though the hosts' right to mock stereo-types may be in question, there's no shame in living out the self-destructive impulse in anyone who throws a party. Regardless of race.
Want The Stranger to charm you, even though you originally wanted to hassle the party reporter at your house party? E-mail the date, place, and party details to email@example.com.