like, who comes up with this nationalist, culture erasing PROPAGANDA? like, no. im not “American” WHAT.SO.EVER. my people were here before the colonizers. and even the people they brought here, they are not “American”….why would we all adopt a colonizers name as our identifier? why would anyone want to call themselves by the name of a human being who incited death and destruction across the globe? FUCK THAT and fuck you for trying.

PSA: Yes, “Spirit Animals” Are Cultural Appropriation- That Means You


[NB: if you (like me) are non-Native and you reblogged agentotter’s commentary PLEASE read sofriel’s refutation below. “Spirit Animal” as a non-Native phrase is SUPER FUCKED UP.]






Petition to start using “patronus” instead of “spirit animal” because not being appropriative is pretty rad.

Okay let’s go through this one more time. Deep breath.

If you think the concept of “spirit animals” comes from Native American religious practices, you are wrong. Also, you’re probably basing your ideas about Native American spiritualism on movies that are incredibly, extremely, offensively wrong. (Spoiler alert: You cannot actually paint with all the colors of the wind.) You’re also failing to understand that Native American and First Nations people are not a homogeneous group, that they do not now and have never existed as a single people with a single set of beliefs. In short, what I’m saying is that just this once, calling this appropriation is actually the thing that is offensive.

If you think the concept of “spirit animals” is specific to any one cultural or religious practice, you are wrong. This idea of animal guides and related ones — like shape-shifting, people possessed by the spirits of animals, particular interpretations of animal dreams, a certain attitude toward the hunting of animals, etc etc — have roots in all sorts of ancient religions, including eastern Shamanic religions, Celtic religions, really religions of of every description… I could go on. Essentially it’s animism, which is common to the whole of human experience, because there isn’t a culture on this planet that doesn’t have a complex, deep-rooted relationship of some kind with animals. But “spirit animals” as most of us understand the concept? Is a made-up thing. Just like Harry Potter’s patronus. Just like His Dark Materials’ daemons. Just like basically any other “inoffensive” alternative on offer.

Essentially, “spirit animal” is a trope. I happen to fucking love that trope. I think it’s fun and interesting. It’s not a real concept, except possibly for Wiccans and New Agers, both of whom appropriated the concept from — guess what! — their completely wrong ideas about Native spiritual practices. I’m willing to bet that everything you’ve ever learned about Native religions came from a white person. I’m willing to bet that it’s wrong.

For all these people who want to be sensitive to Native culture, you can do a lot better than defending their honor from a concept that isn’t theirs in the first place. (You can start by acknowledging that it’s New Age, not Native. AT ALL.) There are so many ways you can learn about Native culture and the problems that tribes face directly from the people themselves. You could start small. Read some Sherman Alexie. Watch Reel Injun orIncident at Oglala on Netflix. Read up on why exactly casting Johnny Depp as Tonto is fucking horrible. Try actually learning something about what they’re going through (basically a never-ending shitstorm of oppression and erasure) and you can help just by being more informed. Become a social justice crusader foractual social justice issues. Still not sure about the spirit animal thing? These Natives would be happy to tell you all about it. And these ones. And this one. (tl;dr: They’re sick of your bullshit.)

This information about “spirit animals” not being a thing makes sense, but I’m not really clear on how referencing a stereotypical, New-Age misinterpretation of Native American religion is that much less offensive/appropriative than improperly referencing an actual Native American religious concept? Doesn’t appropriation usually involve portraying the original culture(s)/religion(s) inaccurately?

that makes sense to me, and I’ve definitely also read things by Native folks here writing against using the term “spirit animal”, although I can’t find any of them just now. perhaps sofriel or moniquill (or others, I’m not sure who else follows me) might have more input.

No. Nooooooooooooooo. No. God, I would like to make a rule where non-Natives are not allowed to make any sort of statements on the appropriativeness or non-appropriativeness of “spirit animals” ever again. 

Fact 1: I am Native. So-called “spirit animals” are part of my spiritual tradition, which is Metis-Anishinaabe. They’re usually called by the Anishinaabe word, which I am not putting on the internet, or “spirit/dream helpers” in English. Natives in fact are not, gasp, homogeneous, and omg some of us have different spiritual traditions than others! (look, I can do the obnoxious patronizing voice too!) And so just because you point to three Native people from cultures that don’t have such a tradition doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist! This tradition is a VERY sacred one, and thanks to colonization it is being forgotten in huge amounts, to the extent that most young Natives don’t even really know much about it—a situation exacerbated by the popular appropriation of “spirit animals.”

Fact 2: Yes, people around the world have and had similar traditions of spirit helpers, who are frequently animals. HOWEVER, the concept of spirit animals in popular culture came from anthropologists’ descriptions of Native American religions (see Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life). It doesn’t matter if the ancient Celts had similar practices, because spirit animals are associated in the popular imagination with Natives, not Celts. I and other Natives regularly get asked, “Can you tell me what my spirit animal is??” Irish people, for instance, do not. And “it’s not Native, it’s New Age” my ass.Where the hell do you think the New Agers got it from? They got it from anthropology textbooks and from the hippies who went to the reservations in the 60s seeking Noble Savage enlightenment.

Fact 3: The fact that spirit animals in popular culture are a bastardized form of Native traditions does not mean they are not appropriative or harmful. Why? Because the popular idea of it comes to supersede the original meaning, infantilizing our traditions.Non-Natives start to think that they understand our traditions, and that they are primitive, rather than actually consulting and trying to understand. This gets bad when those non-Natives are the ones with control over our legal ability to practice our religion. Non-Native appropriation of the sweatlodge incorrectly done and causing death, for example, has resulted in greater restrictions on Native sweatlodges, because the non-Native interpretation was assumed to be representative. 

Fact 4: Appropriation is a part of Native oppression, not a decoy issue, good lord. This attitude of popular ownership of Native traditions causes people to deny Natives the right to practice our religion, which is tied to the colonization and denial of access to our landbase since our practices are often linked to specific places, which is tied to the situation on reservations. It’s tied to the psychological state of our people, because you try growing up with having everyone making an utter mockery of your religion and see how your self-esteem comes out.

And yeah, I will also say, if calling out appropriation is the only thing you’re doing to help Native people, if you are just shouting “Don’t wear headdresses!” and don’t actually get why it’s a problem, then yes, you’re kinda failing as an ally. But appropriation is part of the violence being done to indigenous people. 

You did get one thing right though, we are sick of your bullshit. Very, very sick of it.


I see a lot of ppl on my dash reblogging the post where someone else says that “spirit animal” is not a racist or culturally appropriative term because it’s “New Age” and not Native—but that doesn’t erase the v v smart and true response that sofriel explains above: where did the New Agers get that stereotype and how are you acting in concert with their racism???

Please stop with your weak attempts to justify your appropriation. PSA over

correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t the term “spirit animal” teetering on appropriating Native American culture?

Reasons We Need a House of Night Movie
  • Native American female protagonist
  • gay couples
  • badass women
  • matriarchy
  • good portrayal of Wiccan religions
  • vampires
  • vampires that don’t suck
  • badass facial tattoos
  • hot guys
  • hot Native American guys too
  • everyone has a pet cat
  • awesome magic powers
  • badass black women
  • Oklahoma accents
  • they worship a goddess

Reasons we don’t:

  • there are none
  • nope
  • literally no reason

Person: What are you?

Me: Indian

Person: Ohhhh….Feather or Dot? 


Me: *Internally* Its 2015, you should know the difference between Native American and Indian. And if you don’t, then you should know that there is a better way to ask this question rather than demeaning both races down to two objects. Two objects that you happen to love to appropriate. “Feather and Dot” mean more to each respective culture, and are not a means of classification for our individual ethnicity. 

White people are literally so whiny “People where sexy eiffel tower outfits so we are being like sooo oppressed!!!" 


 Thing is its your own people wearing it, it’s literally harmless and no one gives a fuck. You aren’t going to be fetishized. It won’t start negative stereotypes that will affect how everyone in your country sees your people. Its a joke. You people who believe this is hurting you are a fucking joke. Don’t pretend its your people getting singled out, killed, pointlessly frisked, arrested and stereotyped or even looked down upon in different countries because of little halloween costumes. Don’t pretend assimilation doesn’t exist and literally everyone who steps into your white countries or where your territories are/were are allowed to live the way they did because of your people ruining them. That they can function without having to assimilate to your country’s white culture. 

Yeah you have your own white little countries with their own little white backgrounds everybody has fucking heard of because thats what we are forced to learn, because we are all raised off a culture where we have to suck your fucking dicks constantly and nothing exists but you and your cultures as the staple of existence because our cultures have been so fucked up the ass and assimilated to your culture. It doesn’t matter anymore. Your culture is forcing people into your culture at this point. And you expect us to like you and care about a little Eiffel tower or Oktoberfest dress?? 

Eastern Asian woman can’t be googled without porn/fetishization or a comment/meme on their eyes and are imitated through yellow face and have important icons mocked by white people


Middle Eastern people can’t be googled without fucking terrorism or being brought up. And check out their fucking costumes:


Black people are imitated through blackface and mocked for their lip size and wide nose all their lives. Our lips and hairstyles (Box braids, afros dreads, and cornrows) are made fun of on black people but considered high fashion on white people. 


Latinx and Hispanic people are all grouped as Mexicans who wear sombreros and ponchos and are crazy hairy in costumes and are one of if not the least respected and most joked on people in America. “Chola” is made fun of on them, but high fashion on white women. 


 Indian culture is being fucked over by white people everyday through appropriation for "fashion”. 


Native Americans are imitated through redface, iconized negativity and have their highly respected war headdresses chastised by white people everyday for “fashion”. 


Like goddamn there are even “trans-racial” whites now trying so hard to steal other peoples cultures as if its as flexible as gender, making transexuals look even more ridiculous to anti-sjws. 

Shit, Africans and Asians made the majority of inventions we use daily and get literally no credit for it but he have to learn know the specific names of  white people who looked at the stars and the world wrong?? Hispanics and Asians, especially the Chinese manufacture most of our products and they’re still looked down on like crazy. Most manual labor is from Hispanics, but instead of respecting them for being the backbone of our industries, they laugh at them and make costumes of it. 

But no. You are being “oppressed” and “culturally appropriated” because of a fucking Oktoberfest dress only other fucking white people will wear. I’m sure you won’t be able to function in regular society without being stereotyped or denied rights or sexualized daily or killed because of this “oh so horrendously outrageous and oppressive halloween outfit”.


Rain Dances of the Jemez Pueblo

The rain dances of the Jemez Pueblo people are documented in a 1947 film from Dudley Pictures Corporation’s “This Land is Ours” series of educational travelogues. Rain dances are a form of weather modification that span a number of cultures across the world. The ritual has deep historical roots and is still practiced in a diverse range of areas, including Zimbabwe, Slovakia, and Native American communities. While many Native American rituals involved only men, the rain dance was unique in that women also participated—an indication of the importance of rain to the entire community. The dance was more common to Native American tribes who lived in dry, Southwestern regions which received little rain. Indeed, the Pueblos, who have historically resided in a very arid region of New Mexico, have a particularly intricate rain dance. Movements, costumes, and instruments are chosen and designed for their symbolic qualities. For example, the beating of a drum might represent thunder; a white woven sash, flowing water; and turquoise appliques, rain droplets. 

Today I taught myself how to make dreamcatchers. I have always wanted to learn how but for some reason never tried!

After a bit of research of their origin and purpose I learnt that the feathers are an integral part of the design. Many of the native American tribes believed that dreams floated past a sleepers subconscious, some negative and some positive. The web of the dreamcatcher captures the negative thoughts while the positive ones pass through the web and travel down to the very tips of the feathers and into the sleepers subconscious resulting in peaceful sleep and in turn a peaceful waking life.

I liked the idea of the positive thoughts travelling through the feathers, and so thought it would be nice to use real feathers instead of those weird synthetic ones from two buck shops. I live close to a canal so today I went on a feather collecting walk and found all of these to put on my dreamcatcher. I think it’s nice to have local bird feathers too, so I reckon that if you are to make one you should go hunting for feathers in your local area, or else somewhere special to you.

Just thought I would share my latest hobby! I think the feathers that I found are very beautiful. Happy dreaming tumblrers!