Okay, people i understand you find it disrespectful that non-natives or partial natives do not know our culture “yes i am native, but not nearly full” and yet proceed to do this whole abnormal day or wear head bands or make dream catchers with kits….obviously that may be naive of them, but talking so much mess about it on tumblr is just obnoxious to say the least. You arguing about how disrespectful and ignorant they are gets you nowhere. My personal opinion is to maybe teach them about your culture and what it is really based on besides the stereotypical aspects. Don’t get angry if they are wearing a headband. You act as if it is an actual legitimate one that was passed down to them. They do not know or just ignore the process of gaining one. Set aside your bitterness and relax.
Someone sent me the link to this post anonymously.
Okay, the assumptions:
1) talking about these things being disrespectful doesn’t accomplish anything;
2) natives need to teach people about their culture;
3) natives aren’t doing enough to educate people about WHY these things are disrespectful;
4) getting upset about cultural appropriation is silly because it doesn’t mean anything.
These assumptions are very common…and have been addressed so many times before. But i’mma do it some more.
1) Public shaming is a powerful tool, and may indeed lead to people “cutting that shit out”. When enough public pressure builds, turning a formerly ‘cool’ thing (like wearing a headdress) into something embarrassing, then more and more people will avoid it.
Public shaming has been used to successfully cut down on the rates of people willing to drink and drive, physically assault their spouse or children in public, sexually harass women in the workplace, be openly homophobic and racist and so on. Of course, people still drive drunk, still abuse their families, still sexually harass others and are still homophobic and racist….
But they don’t do it as openly as they used to, and shockingly, that social pressure has had a marked impact that has been reflected in law and public opinion. You can still do these things…but you aren’t going to be seen as a ‘good person’ by as wide a segment of society as you would have been even a few decades ago.
So consider this a public shaming campaign that indeed has the potential to ‘do something’ about cultural appropriation.
2) Native peoples have shown themselves to be pretty damn willing to share their cultures with outsiders, despite the horrors of colonialism. What has done so much damage to settler understandings of our cultures is not an unwillingness on our part to ‘share’…instead, the damage has been inflicted by the Imaginary Indian Syndrome. A mythological creature called “The Indian” has been invented and reinvented by settlers so many times now, that it has become almost impossible for settlers to admit they don’t actually know jack shit about us. Settlers need to throw all those new age ‘indian shamanism’ books into a great bonfire along with all those Hollywood reels and other propaganda that have muddied the waters so badly.
In short…settlers have to stop telling themselves they are experts in the field of ‘native culture’ and start from zero. That would accomplish so much more than our continuing efforts at educating them away from ignorance.
3) We educate people all the time about why specifically these things are not okay. Most of them just don’t give a fuck and don’t want to stop doing it no matter what. Which takes us back to point one…if reason doesn’t work, maybe public shaming will.
4) Cultural appropriation is so deeply linked to point 3, and the mythology of the Indian, that is absolutely imperative we address it. The way that settlers conceive of who we are influences every aspect of the way they interact with us, from the individual, to the collective; social, legal, political.
Notions such as the erroneous one in which indigenous peoples have no property laws, are used to justify the continuing colonisation and marginalisation of our people. Bizarre interpretations of our ‘spirituality’ infect the minds of people teaching our children…children who have already suffered the generational effects of our cultures being banned, and taken outright from us through residential schooling and mass forced adoptions into non-native families. Our cultures are degraded by these interpretations which are offered up as ‘authentic’, and to not address that is to be complicit in our own genocide. We will not be indigenous peoples anymore when we have completely lost our culture.
You can see this degradation playing out right here on tumblr…picture after picture of non-natives in headdresses, and then here and there, a picture of a disconnected part-native person doing the same. Trying to ‘reconnect’ to their culture by wearing symbols that have been twisted out of context by settlers. Associating being indian with these dislocated symbols. The sheer weight of numbers is on the side of disinformation, and our people who have had their ties severed by colonialism are offered a settler interpretation of indigeneity. That is fucking sad beyond belief.
It means something. It means a whole lot of something.