Does the fact that Pharrell claims Native blood excuse his decision to wear a headdress on the cover of Elle UK? No, according to an editorial published by Indian Country.
A lot of people who don't self-identify as American Indian have some American Indian heritage. Many of them don't even know it. Others have a vague idea of Native heritage--there can be a grain of truth to family lore or even the "my grandmother was a Cherokee princess" cliché. But having an American Indian ancestor or relative isn't a license to use that relative's culture spontaneously and without context. Here's another way of looking at it: Many of the people who are appalled by this image are deeply connected to their Native culture and live it every day. Iftheysay the picture is hurtful, it's hurtful, and a Cherokee grandmother doesn't change that.