Such disrespect to the Native Americans

Dear non-natives

The Plains warbonnet is not a Cherokee thing. It is not a Navajo thing. It is not an Indian thing. It is a Plains thing.

Stop calling every silly thing you draw that even vaguely resembles a native “Cherokee” or “Navajo” or “Aztec.”

Stop drawing the warbonnet everywhere as the apparently definitive native thing. It isn’t part of all of our 600+ cultures.

Same goes for the tipi, not part of every one of the 600+ indigenous cultures.

Stop thinking that if a native person doesn’t have dark, “mahogany” skin, that their heritage is invalid. Even without admixture, we actually do have varying skin tones.

Stop wearing crappy fake warbonnets.

Stop wearing redface.

Stop using us as your silly mascots. We are people.

Stop saying “spirit animal.” It’s derived from a New Age bastardization of a something that actually exists in some of our cultures.

Don’t smudge. Cleanse all you like, that’s fine, but don’t smudge.

Don’t call us “Indians.” “Native American” isn’t great either, it is not our name, but it’s slightly better than “Indian.” “Indigenous” is also fine.

Don’t use NDN/ndn. That is ours.

Step off about our hair. If you meet a long-haired native, admire it if you like, maybe even ask them about it (RESPECTFULLY), but do not touch. The same applies for someone with short hair, but additionally for those with short hair, don’t say things like “oh you’d look more native/Indian/etc if your hair was long.” We didn’t all traditionally have long, flowing hair. Believe it or not, there are actually different haircuts existing in our various cultures, and aside from that ultimately it’s a personal choice, one does not need to have long hair if they don’t want to. Doesn’t make them any less native to have short hair.

Don’t pray to our spirits/gods/energies. Native spiritualities are closed, they are not for outsiders.

Don’t say “The Native Americans believed…” Firstly, the past tense is silly, we still exist and do things. Secondly, we are NOT A MONOLITH. As I mentioned before, there are upwards of 600 different Native American cultures.

Don’t ask about someone’s “Indian name.” That’s not only insensitive, the name you are referring to in that instance is something sacred, and might not be something that person wants to share with you.

Don’t call yourself silly crap like “howling wolf” or “flying eagle.” That’s also racist and insensitive.

Regardless of whatever you might think you’re doing, or what your intentions may be, if a native person tells you that what you’re doing is disrespectful, STOP DOING IT.

You aren’t honoring us. You’re just mocking us further, demonstrating your continued ability to treat us like shit and get away with it even now, centuries after our colonization began. Your feelings are not more important than our history and survival.

To those doing your best as allies, thank you, keep doing what you do. HOWEVER, don’t let opportunities to educate others escape you. By letting them continue to be ignorant, you are failing. Spread the message.

There will be no “please.” It’s been more than 500 years, and we still are made to be invisible in our homelands. Still we are treated like less. Some even think we all died long ago.

We are still here

We will still be here

Treat us with respect.

“I am Native American from the Omaha tribe in Nebraska. My Indian name means ‘shooting star.’ I wish the world knew that we do still exist. And, no, we don’t all live in tepees. When I see people in headdresses or Native American accessories, I feel disrespected. They don’t know the meaning behind it, how we wear it, or what we do to earn it. This is a real eagle feather. It doesn’t just fall off an eagle and someone says, ‘Oh, here — it’s yours.’ You have to earn it in my culture. I feel powerful when I wear it, more confident, and more connected to my ethnicity. I’ve never been embarrassed about being Native American. I take pride in it. I love how spiritual we are — it’s like we’re in tune with the Earth and the universe. I know there’s no other culture out there like mine.”

Daunnette Reyome

📚 Author Themed Asks 📚

Because I love books and I CANNOT find an ask-prompt that satisfies my literary sensibilities AND my insatiable desire to troll. (Feel free to reblog). 

F. Scott Fitzgerald: How would you describe your ‘ideal’ brunch attire?

J.K. Rowling: What is your Hogwarts house? 

Donna Tartt: Which of the seven deadly sins are you most guilty of? 

Sylvia Plath: What is your favorite artistic medium?

Dostoevsky: Do you sleep feverishly or perhaps not at all? 

George R.R. Martin: Would you rather marry for wealth/power or murder for it?

J.R. Tolkien: What is your favorite magical creature? 

Jane Austen: What social faux-pas annoys you the most? 

Leo Tolstoy: Do you feel honor-bound to betray aspects of your formally bleak and morally corrupt life?

Hans Christian Anderson: What is your favorite fairytale?

Lord Byron: Are you narcissistic? 

JD Salinger: What is/was your worst subject in school?

Stephen King: What kind of curse would most effectively punish you for disrespecting the sanctity of some Native American burial grounds?

Oscar Wilde:  Would you sweep your rival a magnificently lethal leg at the top of a long flight of stairs? 

Charles Dickens:  How do you really feel about children? 

Edith Wharton: Do you love someone with every fiber of your being but respect them too much to touch them?  

Gentle reminder: To identify as Two-Spirited is to identify as Native American and outside the gender binary. Please do not disrespect that it is a part of being First Nations and queer and that identity is important to us.

A less gentle reminder: Spirit Animals are fucking sacred, don’t use them for just anything. I don’t care how much you identify with the thing, unless you are using the term properly you are being disrespectful.

PSA by a First Nations person, thank you for your time.

“One of the most threatening was the attack on Pueblo religion started by the United States government in 1921. Using the recently passed Religious Crimes Act as its chief weapon, the government made the practice of Indian religious ceremonies a punishable offense. At the same time, the government launched a public campaign to vilify native religion…and also claimed that native religion was largely responsible for the Indian failure to assimilate into the cultural mainstream. For Indians to rise above their ‘savage’ state, so the argument ran, it was necessary to destroy their pagan worship” (16).

From the book, The Taos Indians and the Battle for Blue Lake.

Native Superheroes and Avoiding Stereotypical Roles

@wordsmithkg asked:

Sorry to bother you guys, this is a bit of a weird one, but if I’m writing something and part of it features a group of Native American (specifically Navajo) superheroes, are there powers I should avoid for cliché/stereotyping reasons, or that would feel disrespectful? For example, I can’t help but feel geokinesis would be too much of a literal manifestation of the “closer to earth” stereotype. I unfortunately don’t know any Navajo, but I did find an online community I plan to ask as well

Animal. Powers. If I see one more Native shapeshifter and/or animal speaker, I feel like I’m going to scream. Trackers, too. Plant manipulators. Spiritual mediums. Archers with superhuman aim.

Basically, look up Magical Native American and if it shows up on that list, avoid unless you manage to justify it in-universe with something other than “Natives have x”. 

Geokenisis sounds fun! The thing I like about it is it sounds modern. A lot of the icky part about Natives with powers is people assuming that the powers are “ancient” and therefore detached from modern society. They rely more than they would like to admit on Noble Savage, so if you break that with either modern sounding powers and/or non-nature based things, you’re good.

The main thing about Native powers I’ve found is they rely on sixth sense/otherworldly connection, instead of having anything that’s a pseudoscientific explanation. So if you had “felt the earth’s natural heat rising and falling”, that would be one thing, but if you had “telepathic abilities focusing on dense objects such as stone or metal”, that’s another. The former is flirting with Magical Native, the latter sounds like a superhero power.

Give it the same BS explanation that non-Native superheroes get. If you’re just going for “oh, they’re more ~*in tune*~” then I would have problems, but if you’re going with something that is at least trying to sound scientific, you’re much safer. Even something just like “genetic mutation allows for x” is cool.
The problems with tropes like Magical Native American or even Magical Nergo is the principle tends to stop at “because they are this ethnicity, they have these powers.” Meanwhile, if the reasoning is built into the character— ie- Black Panther has powers because he is king of Wakanda, and therefore has access to a plant that enhances ability to the point of a supersoldier— then you’re avoiding the heart of the trope which is that some skin colours just inherently have magic.

So, make it pseudoscientific, and try to avoid “spiritual” based stuff. Then, you’re good.

~ Mod Lesya

I don’t understand. How much more can we take away from Native Americans? Native Americans have suffered through abuse, rape, disrespect and disregard of their culture and more, yet we keep trying to take more of their land. And how have they responded? With kind words and peaceful protests, only forgiveness for years and years of hatred. Is this how we treat them? Trump has signed a bill to continue DAPL and I don’t even know where to start. What hope is there now? Please find your humanity people. I don’t know how we can fix this but show some damn respect and don’t appropriate culture, don’t shit on traditions you don’t understand, don’t disregard years of history, and NEVER forget the hatred the United States has shown for indigenous people.

foreverthesickesttbitch  asked:

Fuck off, I saw your comment on my post you reblogged of a good friend of mine wearing a native headdress. I myself have native american blood, part of my family is Choctaw Native American. I am also Jamaican & Cuban, though I look like I'm just a black female. So I bet if it were me wearing the headdress you would bash me too, thinking I'm mocking a culture when actually it's in my blood. Quite possibly hers too & many others. Shame on you. Culture is meant to be celebrated, not to divide!

Choctaw never wore those type of headdresses btw.
  
If you want to bring blood into it.

I’m the great grandson of Chief Whippoorwill signatory to treaty 1. Also the great grandson of Carries the Pipe from the former Pembina Chippewa, Basically Northern Plains Anishinabe….Along with several other Chiefs and headmen going back to before the reserve era. I’m also a Status Indian in Canada with ties to the White Earth in MN. 


I’m the nephew of an Aunt and Uncle who were activists since the 1970s in groups like the American Indian Movement. I’ve been carrying on their more peaceful community work since 1998. (long haired me from the old days) 

Super disrespectful to people like me who work to earn their feathers. If I've been working in the community for years and only have one (two technically) What gives you the right to talk down to actual ones who earn theirs?

So to recap.

You just told an actual northern plains native whose culture you’re disrespecting to fuck off.

You just told a native man who lives in an area where native women are going missing at such an alarming rate its brings national headlines to fuck off

You should told a urban native who has to put up with white people disrespecting his culture and mocked him on a monthly basis for his entire childhood/adulthood to fuck off.


So fine, I’ll fuck off. But I’m going to reblog this question every single month for a year (maybe 4 for each direction). If you have a problem just go to a pow wow and find some female Anishinabe pow wow dancers from my area and tell them how bad of a person I am to you. They will probably agree with me because they are the ones who put me up to this because of the threats they received for talking out.

Amnesty International No More Stolen Sisters 

That’s all I’m going to say about this..

Using Creatures From Native American Beliefs

I have been working on a fantasy series and my world has 9 nations of people, each with somewhat loose real-world influences. Each nation has its own kind of… guardian animal I guess (I formerly called them totem animals but have recently thought I should avoid that word since it specifically originated from Ojibwe culture) and while most of them are animals I have made up, a few of them are taken from real world mythologies and legends. One is the Wyvern, which doesn’t have any significant purpose in its origin so I think should be fine to use, but the others are the wakinyan (Lakota - thunderbird) and the amarok (Inuit) which were significantly more important to their originating cultures. 

The wakinyan is the guardian animal of the nation influenced by some Native American cultures, where the Amarok is similarly the guardian of the nation influenced by Inuit cultures. I hoped this would give representation to those cultures and their mythologies but have worried that in reality it might just be disrespectful. I was hoping you could give me some feedback on whether this use is problematic or appropriative. Thank you! (PS I love this blog, it has taught me a lot, so thank you!) 

I’d caution you to make sure that the “Native American” cultures you’re pulling from all use the Thunderbird, because it is specific to a few tribes. It would feel very off to have a culture that didn’t have the Thunderbird at all suddenly have it be incorporated. I’d prefer it if it was one specific tribe, but if you’re pulling from closely-knit nations who have a common history as allies then you’ll run into a lot less raised eyebrows for mixing a few together. I should note that a shared language family does not indicate a shared ally history; the Huron and Iroquois both shared a language family, but they’re traditionally enemies. They had periods of allyship, but that wasn’t the norm.

Other than that, this doesn’t look appropriative to me because you’re pulling from the entirety of the culture when selecting those animal protectors. The key to at least beginning to respect a culture’s religion (another caution is calling Native American religions “mythologies"— we’re still alive and practicing our traditions!) is to take the whole of it, not just the “cool” or pretty parts.

Of course, the usual cautions of sensitivity readers and making sure you’re not relying on the white versions of our beliefs apply. But as a general rule, if there’s the culture to go along with the creature, you have solid representation.

~ Mod Lesya

9

“Who are these Asians at the BBMAs?”

I’ve seen comments like “who are these Asians at the BBMAs?” and “this award doesn’t mean anything, it’s fan-voted” and “their music isn’t in English.” 

Let’s ignore the fact that they aren’t American or native English-speakers for a moment and focus on something that’s so basic we should all be able to relate to it: they’re human beings with feelings, who’ve experienced hardships, and they’ve achieved something that’s been a dream for them. As a human being, how can you be so blind and say such hurtful things?

Look at how excited they are to be in America, meeting artists that they admire and listen to. Look at how excited they are to win a Billboard award in front of those same artists. Artists that you might admire and listen to as well. How dare you try to taint that experience for them.

Music is music. You enjoy it because of how it makes you feel. Not because of what language it’s in. You listen to Lil’ Wayne? So do they. You listen to John Legend? So do they. The Chainsmokers, Coldplay, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Celine-freaking-Dion.

Am I saying you need to become a K-Pop fan? Absolutely not. If you’re not into it, you’re not into it. But don’t disrespect BTS because they speak a different language, or because they’re Korean. Have the sense to realize that music is global and is for everyone to enjoy. Coldplay was just in South Korea for a concert. Gallant, Timbaland and Wiz Khalifa performed at the MAMA awards in Hong Kong in 2016. American and English-speaking artists tour the entire world, despite language differences. It’s a two-way street.

Let’s come back to them not being American or native English-speakers. It’s 2017 and we still cannot look past someone’s race or nationality or language? Namjoon must have felt the weight of the world having to do the interviews for the BBMAs and to give the acceptance speech. This is a man who taught himself a language that is very difficult and so different from his own. For those of you saying “that was English? I couldn’t understand a word of it,” if you didn’t like seeing them on your TV, you should have changed the channel and spared Twitter feeds from your simple-minded, petty, racist comments.

To touch on the fact that it’s “just a fan-voted award” – First, yes. It is a fan-voted award, and I hope that BTS felt every ounce of love and respect and appreciation from their fans that they deserve. Second, if you think this award has so little value, then you shouldn’t care who wins it, American or not. English-speaking or not.  

Lastly, to those within the K-Pop fandom who are being disrespectful: You know how much these artists go through just to debut, if they ever do debut. Even if you’re not a BTS fan, you should be able to sympathize with what they went through. Because chances are, your faves went through it too.

Different Paths and Religions of Paganism: List and Definitions

Paganism, as I’ve said before, is an umbrella term, meaning it encompasses dozens and dozens of different religions. However, with that being said, Paganism typically revolves around nature religions. But here are a few Paths and Religions.

Eclectic:

Eclectic Pagans are sort of melting pots of Paganism. They typically pull from all kinds of other religions/paths. They are experiential Pagans, meaning they also draw from personal experience to help them create there path.

Syncretic:

Syncretic Pagans draw from other religions as well, but unlike Eclectic Pagans, they will also draw from non-religions too.

Folkloric:

Folkloric Pagans are influenced by all kinds of mediums. Legends, music, history (oral and textbook),  proverbs, popular beliefs, fairy tales, and cultural customs. 

The popular ideas for Paganism, is that we are polytheistic, which isn’t always the case. You will meet many who believe in a singular God, or no God at all. 

They are nature based, also not always the case, BUT this is a traditional ideal. This is one of those things that Pagans wish was always the case, because we are tree huggers, gardeners and animal lovers/advocates. 

Belief in female divinity, now this one is a little more broad, because many Pagans believe in balance. MALE/FEMALE, LIGHT/DARK, and so on and so forth. So, balance is more the key.

Pagan Faiths (Popular):

  • Wicca
  • Druidism 
  • Ásatrú 
  • Hellenism 
  • Kemetism
  • Witchcraft
  • Native American faiths

These are only a few, there are dozens more. 


SIDE-NOTE: The only one I actually advise against practicing is Native American Faiths, unless you are ACTUALLY Native American, like you went and found out and now you have a card saying so. Then PLEASE DO NOT practice this. It is disrespectful. It isn’t like Hellenism, or Kemetism, which are Ancient Greece and Ancient Egyptian. If you live in the U.S. there are outlets which let you find out if you have Native American ancestry/blood. So, please be careful with that. 

Thanks to @kimpalonen for the ask. Hope this Helps

)o(

requiemgrey  asked:

Just letting you know that I: Don't care how you identify. The amount of genders is the amount of feet a single person has. Don't care for labels. Will wear what I want, WHEN I want. Native American costume? Rastafarian colors? dreadlocks? Japanase Armor? Whatever. I. Want. I don't care WHAT you think is wrong. You're the tomi lahren of the internet. Get off your self-righteous kick and stop being a fucking cunt to other people by pushing your beliefs on them. Hitler did that. Jackass.

GORL LMAO what’s your fucking problem, i tell people not to do blackface and you conservative freaks act like a bunch of toddlers who were told they can’t play with their teddy bears past midnight. get the fuck over it, black face and the blatant disrespect towards cultures will no longer be tolerated during this halloween and halloweens to come. 

Dear White People

Stop having pride in Columbus Day. It’s just inappropriate honestly and disrespectful. Christopher Columbus came over and took advantage of the Native Americans; slaughtered countless, brought diseases, raped and took from them. Ironically Columbus called them savages because how they acted and hunted. Remember people you can’t discover something that wasn’t hidden. Also people who dress up as Native Americans are ignorant and idiotic.

long-haired-winston  asked:

I see a lot of (non native) people with tattoos of skulls with headdresses or dream catchers. I was wondering if that’s seen as disrespectful by the Native community

I’m pretty sure I’ve answered a question like this before regarding Miley Cyrus’s stupid dream catcher tattoo… (it might be in my FAQ, but I can’t remember off-hand.) So I’d like my Native followers to give their opinions on this topic. 

And, as NativeAppropriations stated in an article on the subject, “dream catchers are probably one of the most appropriated and exploited Native images.  In many Ojibwe communities, dream catchers are still a sacred, and their creation involves specific ceremonies and prayers. The plastic commercial keychains sold in rest stops are making a mockery of a sacred object. When people buy the dream catchers because they’re “pretty” or to ward off bad dreams, and aren’t aware of the power and history behind the objects, it dilutes them to a commercial object disconnected from their origins and community.”

In my, probably unpopular opinion, Native American tattoos on non-Native people are super cringy. Especially the ever so popular: skull wearing headdress and the Bert Grimm style tattoos of women wearing headdresses.

As a Native American person, anytime I see a Native headdress tattoo on a non-Native person, (specifically a white person, let’s face the facts) it’s like a major “F.U.” & a slap in the face. I’ve seen so many of them all my life… I’ve even had people who, upon asking me if I’m Native American, then proudly proceed to want to show me their awful headdress tattoo. (And please don’t send me ask messages after reading this saying things like, “But my skull wearing headdress tattoo is honoring Natives” or something as equally ridiculous like, “but I’m 1/100th Native American through my great great great great Grandmother so it’s okay for me to have such & such tattoo.” 

When you look at that tattoo, you might see honor, but when I look at your tattoo… I see your ancestors forcing Native people to abandon our ways of life, culture, and belief systems, to assimilate to yours. 

If you really want to connect with your “indian roots” or honor and show solidarity for Natives, I can think of lots of way better ways than permanently tattooing a culturally appropriative & disrespectful headdress tattoo on your body.

Regarding this post, I feel the need to reiterate my framework of cultural appropriation for people who’ve been following me for a while. Cultural appropriation is a useful but often misapplied concept, and you have to think about it dialectically. 

  • Problem: Drawing a firm line between “good” cultural exchange and “bad” cultural appropriation is impossible.
    • Because that line is constantly evolving and a site of conflict and negotiation.
    • Because the very definition of “culture” is constantly evolving and a site of conflict and negotiation.
    • Because establishing a debate on the level of such heavily reified concepts as “cultural appropriation” discounts lived experiences and is ultimately pointless. 
  • Solution: draw provisional, contextual lines based on real people and their lived experiences. Who benefits, financially and emotionally? Who hurts, financially and emotionally?
    • This actually means listening to people.
    • And people are flawed and communicate imperfectly because that’s our nature. 
    • And racism and other power structures also frame our thoughts in such a way that we listen more to some people than other people.
    • So listening is very difficult, but a project that ultimately makes us more human and empathetic.

If I hear “engaging in such and such a cultural practice makes a certain group unhappy” then I have a simple decision to make. Do I respect that group enough in order to listen to them? If I respect them, I’ll take them seriously. If I’m not sure whether to respect them or not, I’ll keep it in mind and wait for further information but not take any action. If I don’t respect them, I’ll ignore them or make fun of them. I might make a wrong decision (and we all will at some point) I need to accept responsibility for that wrong decision and not blame something else.

The extremes are pretty easy. For example, many Native Americans have explained, at exhausting lengths, that outsiders wearing ceremonial headresses is hurtful. I understand why, but I really don’t need to understand why if I’m trying to respect them, I shouldn’t need a million Purple Heart allegories, I just need to listen to them. 

On the other hand, if someone tells me not to wear pointy teeth because it’s disrespectful to vampires, I’m going to ignore them with a prejudice, because I don’t respect them or their opinion. 

The problem with all these goddamn weeaboos is that they don’t respect Japanese-Americans. They don’t respect Japanese in Japan either (they claim they do but they just fetishize them) but they explicitly disrespect Japanese-Americans and other diaspora Japanese and other diaspora Asians. When I bitch about weeaboos I’m not making claims about “who owns culture”. I’m complaining about the lack of respect, the silencing, the propagation of stereotypes that made my life hell as a child, the direct hostility, the yellowfacing, the whitewashing, the insults, their entitlement to judge our authenticity and score us on a dehumanizing Good Asian vs. Bad Asian scale, their sexual assaults and rape threats and pedophilia complexes, a list of a million things that I’ve directly experienced.

I’d planned on summing this up more intelligently but in conclusion, fuck weeaboos. I hate you all.

Red Harvest x Reader - Magnificent Seven Fic

“That Indian looks outa place, don’t he, Miss?” said Trevor. Trevor was generally a nice kid. He’d run messages for you over town for some penny candy.

“He does,” you say. “He could use a welcome.” You move around the counter to greet him.

“That ain’t what I meant!” hissed the boy. “I meant he don’t belong!”

You were aware of what Trevor meant, but you didn’t intend on paying him any mind.

“Welcome to the goods store,” you say to the Native American. He looked at you, and you wondered if maybe you should be intimidated after all. He IS big. And strong too. You find yourself wondering who those hands might have killed.

He nods at you after a long moment of studying your face. You can feel your cheeks go hot.

“Er… do you have a name, sir?” you ask. Someone comes into the shop behind you, but you ignore them for the time being, afraid of disrespecting the man in front of you.

“I am Red Harvest,” he says in a deep voice. Then he turns back to a shelf he’s looking at. You don’t even see the merchandise; your eyes are locked on Red Harvest.

“I’m-”

“Miss!” says a grating voice from behind you. “I need your help.”

You turn to see Mrs. Tews, a lady you’ve known all your life. She’s motioning frantically, offering a way away from the dangerous injun in your store.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Tews. I’m helping Red Harvest,” you say.

Her jaw all but drops.

When you turn, he’s looking at you with sharp eyes. Everything about him is sharp. His jaw, his hairline, the arrows he’s probably killes with…

“You want to help me?” His voice is quiet. He looks past you at Mrs. Tews, judging the situation.

“You were here first.” Are your cheeks as red as they feel?

He looks back down at you, then asks, “What color?”

With a start, you look at the shelf and find it’s the one with all the ribbons. You wonder what on earth he wants ribbons for. Decorate a horse mane? Hang with feathers from his hair? You can’t even imagine, and you have no facts; only stories told in saloons after too many drinks.

“This one looks good with nearly everything,” you say, lightly laying a finger on a red ribbon, thinking of his name.

Red Harvest nods and takes the small spool. “One,” he says.

You take the ribbon slowly and bring it to the counter, cutting off a decent length. Before you can wonder if the Native can pay, he sets down the money. Cheeks flushed with embarrassment at your assumptions, you pass the ribbon to him, laying the smooth fabric in his rough hands.

You put the money in the register, but when you straighten, you’re surprised to find Red Harvest still standing there.

“Do yo- oh.”

He hands the ribbon to you.

You take it gently, then watch the large man walk out of the shop and vanish from view.

“Well I never!” breathed Mrs. Tews. Trevor swore, and the lady cuffed the back of his head.

You dart around the counter and look out the shop window, but Red Harvest is no where in sight.

Whenever you see the color red, you remember the Native American in your shop who bought you a ribbon as red as your blush, as red as his name, and as red as your feelings long after he’d vanished.

Appropriation and a God's Burden

@spoopernaptime asked: 

Hi, I have a long question about cultural appropriation regarding Native American mythology. The Thunderbird has a long history across various tribes and regions. This pertains to a character who represents a single side of dualist philosophy - i.e concepts of yin, relating to darkness, water, etc. 

This character is an ancient entity currently residing in a form resembling a Native woman - as her most recent ‘role’ in terms of how humans believed in her was the Thunderbird and she still resides in the Pacific Northwest - home to a diversity of tribes and persistent Thunderbird culture. She has an odd relationship with the Native cultures across America in that she feels like she let them down as a God (what with, white imperialism and genocide and all.) Part of her character arc does include starting a blog dedicated to the preservation and education of Native languages but she’s reluctant to engage with the communities - and to a greater extent, pretty much all of humanity. 

The story itself is full of metaphysics brought down to human levels, and I ended up using a Native American concept in the process of embodying a primordial force. I’m aware of the Magical Native American trope and (I think) she sidesteps it well enough but I’d like to know just how terrible an idea this may be. Especially with the latest mess from Rowling.

It’s all a bit weird because the character is technically not even human, much less a Native American, and is older than humanity itself. However, in her acting as a Thunderbird, she was very real in terms of what individual cultures believed her to be (the whole system of magic in the fantasy is based on the power of human faith, so. Due to the nature of what she is I wouldn’t say her character invalidates anyone’s faith and yet!! I don’t really know. So.) Most of her character arc has little to do with Native Americans and everything to do with her own self and relationships to the other non-Native characters. So is this a mess of cultural appropriation and disrespect or what.

So… you have an ancient spirit with no connection to Natives become a sacred religious concept for multiple tribes in order to “help” Natives, then proceed to include no Natives in your plot?

What part of this isn’t appropriation?

You’ve basically come up with a white saviour/guilt plot, using a god instead of white people. The spirit must protect and save Natives! But then the whole plot is her dealing with her own feelings, so the Thunderbird becomes a window decoration to show where her focus is, and what guilt she’s dealing with.

The blog is actually something I’m going to focus on because depending on how you spin it, you can either come across as helpful (re-posting a bunch of stuff that other people have written to defer authority to them— as she should) or steamrolling actual Natives (by writing content in authoritative tone, which is a non-Native being an expert in Native culture). If you don’t play your cards right with this, you will come across as colonialist. 

Even protecting and preserving cultures can have a toxic twist to it, in the form of believing assimilation is inevitable so you should document everything that exists now. It can come across as fetishizing to focus on the resilience of Native culture, because it’s very easy to turn voyeuristic/model minority about it. “Look at all this tragedy, but they’re still fighting and exist!” can be both genuine praise and invalidation for the cultural genocide. Or, if you exclusively go “all this tragedy, imagine the possibilities, poor them” then you can both be validating the pain… or ignoring modern resistance efforts.

Tricky balance to accomplish, and nearly impossible to do so if she doesn’t interact with Natives. Also next to impossible to get sources, because how will she find anything if she doesn’t interact with the community?

Magical Native isn’t your worry, here. The core of that trope is “Native person had special powers because they’re Native”… so the fact your character isn’t Native and has no connection to a tribe means you avoid the trope by default.
What you very much do fall into is a reskin of White Man’s Burden, where an outside character feels pity towards a marginalized group and promptly works to better them, becoming a better person in the process. 

This is very much a white person’s story at the direct expense of Natives. The Thunderbird is nothing but window decoration to give context for what the god is feeling/what their current role is. Instead of exploring or representing Natives, you’ve sidelined our story to have somebody external feel guilty for not treating us right.

And that doesn’t help us at all.

~ Mod Lesya

In the same vein, regarding to the dualist philosophy in this work, I think it would be better if you made sure it wasn’t just a repackaging of Chinese philosophy. Many philosophies and religions deal with dualism/dualities, so I think that you can find ways to build a fictional philosophy/system around dualism that isn’t coded as Chinese, particularly if this work isn’t going to have much Chinese representation.

~Mod Stella

could you imagine literally whitewashing an entire ethnicity, a minority that is already so disrespected constantly, & getting mad at people when they call you out on it ? like, it’s not enough that thousands of native americans had been killed & pillaged by europeans, but now you have to class them as the very people they were killed by ? like the fact that you have zero respect for a whole group of people is disgusting.

native americans are still in poverty and isolated because of the reservations whites put them on, & you’re honestly going to say that dismissing native americans as whites are okay because somehow native americans are ‘caucasoid’ ?? 

“That’s not how it works. I’m casting a fictional sibling, not a real one, and the character is not a PoC.”

it doesn’t matter that they’re “a fictional sibling”, @watchyourpackhq you should know better & use a proper native american fc; there are a ton of actual native american fcs out there, you just have to go & look for them. hell, there are a million rphs out there who are willing to help you with finding fcs for native americans !

it doesn’t matter if cody is white-passing, he’s confirmed to be native american, so out of literal respect for native american people as a whole, use a proper fc ? this isn’t people being ‘special snowflakes’, stop trying to justify your literal blatant racism ? just because teen wolf & hollywood as a whole has a serious issue with whitewashing & not giving a care to people of colour’s ethnicity when casting, doesn’t mean that this is okay at all ? 

by saying that this is “all fictional”, you are actually saying that you don’t care about the culture you are erasing. it’s not that hard to listen to actual people’s concerns instead of insulting them.