A company hired to plan a music festival for Meow Wolf is causing controversy over the decor they’ve chosen.
“‘Come get wild’ is what the ad said, ‘Dance and be VIP in our teepees,” Vanessa Bowen said.
Last Wednesday, the Albuquerque event planning company Dig and Serve posted the photo to Instagram. It was promoting this weekend’s upcoming Meow Wolf music festival, the Taos Vortex. It highlighted the fact that teepees would be a main attraction.
The post caught Bowen’s attention and many others.
“It also caught me off guard,” Bowen said. “I understand, yeah, a teepee is cool, It looks awesome. It’s great. I can totally agree with that, but you have to understand the history behind it isn’t so pretty.”
Bowen said people immediately started asking questions.
“One person was inquiring if it was a Native-owned business, another person said as a tribal member, ‘this is very disheartening,'” she said.
She said, soon after, the post was deleted. Bowen, who is Navajo, grew up in Gallup.
“A teepee is a structure where families live in, or where families set up in to go hunting and so it’s family oriented and it’s an integral part of a culture,” she said.
She compared using teepees at a musical festival to wearing a headdress for recreational use. KRQE News 13 spoke with the owner of Dig and Serve, who said he meant no disrespect. He said he chose the design because it’s functional and added that they are paying homage to the structure and its history.
“This is the problem with cultural appropriation, people get to pick and choose from what they want from a cultural, then they modify it then make a profit from it,” she said.
The owner of Dig and Serve declined an on-camera interview. It’s not clear if the teepees will be used at the event.
The director of marketing for Meow Wolf got back to KRQE News 13 Wednesday and said the company respects all cultures in New Mexico, and that there was never any ill intent behind the teepees.