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(Credit: Lisa Buge)

Music

Greta Van Fleet’s Josh Kiszka addresses appropriation of indigenous culture

Greta Van Fleet singer Josh Kiszka has acknowledged that he appropriated Indigenous culture in his past costumes and creative display. The vocalist was targetted in a recent hashtag campaign (#SpeakUpGVF) which called for him to address and remove a series of photos on his Instagram page showing him and his friends wearing Indigenous costumes back in 2017.

The statement from the #SpeakUpGVF campaign read: “Indigenous fans and those practising allyship have tried to contact Josh and ask him to remove the photos and address the cultural appropriation, but he continues to stay silent and the photos continue to stay up. Remaining silent on this is upsetting and is ignorant as it upholds racist ideologies that Indigenous cultures are simply a costume when they are sacred, and not open for appropriation. Fans created #SpeakUpGVF as a way to get Josh’s and/or GVF’s attention to request that the photos be removed and request an apology to Indigenous people.”

Kiszka wore Indigenous-inspired outfits during the band’s 2018 tour, which was seemingly not picked up on at the time. But in the past few months, pressure has been piled on the singer to address the concern over the photos that remain on his social media. Initially, Kiszka remained quiet about the campaign, but in an Instagram post on Monday (April 18th), he broke silence on the matter, explaining that he has a deep affinity for the Indigenous culture, especially with the Chippewa tribe. He also disclosed that he made a charitable donation to the First Nations Development Institute.

The statement reads:

“To our indigenous fans,

I see you. I’ve taken time to listen and gather my thoughts. My appreciation for indigenous culture is bigger than myself. I recognize the harm that ignorance can have on marginalized communities, something I’d never want to perpetuate. Hate, disrespect and prejudice of any kind are not welcome in this community. As I’ve come into adulthood, I’ve been able to grow and learn. This growth has not stopped and will not stop here.

The Chippewa tribe has had a particularly profound impact on my life having been exposed to their ceremonies and customs during my early years growing up in Michigan. I have made a charitable donation [to] the First Nations Development Institute to help keep indigenous traditions like theirs alive and well. Should you want to support with me, please visit firstnations.org.

Peace, Love, Unity & Equality. Always. Josh.”

The photos in question have now been removed from Kiszka’s Instagram page, with no such images visible dating back to his first post in 2017.

Greta Van Fleet embarked on a 2022 Spring tour before guitarist Jake Kiszka’s battle with pneumonia forced the band to postpone all remaining dates after just a few gigs.

The postponed dates have now been rescheduled and integrated into Greta Van Fleet’s extensive North American tour kicking off in August.