Wednesday, March 9, 2016

An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling - Native Appropiation

J.K. Rowling just came out with a new fictional wizarding book featuring Indigenous mythology from North America and some Native activist are upset because they feel J.K. Is misappropriating Native culture.
I really feel the appropiation movement has gone to far.  Native people have been, "borrowing" , from each other all time whether it's been religion, dance, language, stories, dress and so on. Borrowing is a form of trade and has established good relations between communities since time immorial. In the movie, "Smoke Signals" , didn't the mother refer to Julia Child as a good cook and that she learns from her all the time? Isn't that a form of appropriating their Western culture?

And besides, most of the Native folklore written by Western writers is cliche, for example, if a Native American super hero is a featured character, they possess the usual abilities i.e. shape shifting, having an animal prowess or being in touch with the Earth. 

At the end of the day, our real Native cultural mythology is still intact because its not shared with outsiders, no matter how it's interpreted in the Western cinema or literature, their versions are always going to be generic with no real substance, so theres really no point in getting upset over it.

Personally I like J.K.'s stories, they're very entertaining, she may not know the real epistemology of her subjects but that shouldn't stop her from being a good writer, after all, its fiction.


Dear J.K.
Our Native culture is very sensitive, that being said, I love your stories so just be aware of the voodoo that comes with tapping into our Native origin stories, as one of my Native friends so mildly put it:

"Well that's on her... Whatever kind of witches she's conjuring with those secrets. The old people use to tell us don't touch the old things left by the dead... " 

But I doubt this is your first rodeo.