White Appropriation of FN Cultural Symbols and Idiom.

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Tommy_Paine

quote:


I don't know how you can compare what happened to FN people as being the same or equal to what has happened to other groups.

With the greatest respect, I know I can sometimes be clumsy with my intent, but I don't think I came close to infering that.

Just to be clearer, I meant to say that there are similarities in the internal politics. Knowing how each different group has come to terms or not come to terms with that might provide valuable insights.

sknguy

Really though, Makwa does have a very good point. And Tommy_Paine’s observations do contain commonalities. If we aren’t of any utility to the majority, then we’re a hindrance. We’re an obstacle, both physically and legally, when we try to express our desires. Our culture had become, to certain extent, a victim of that utility. Referring of course, to appropriation. Appropriation serves the majority.

Just to add: to the new age religions, our traditions, I think, simply provide an asthetic utility. And another thing... lol, we've also been guilty of appropriating our traditions. When we present them in a manner that pleases asthetics.

[ 18 July 2007: Message edited by: sknguy ]

Tommy_Paine

quote:


Just to add: to the new age religions, our traditions, I think, simply provide an asthetic utility. And another thing... lol, we've also been guilty of appropriating our traditions. When we present them in a manner that pleases asthetics.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, there was, although it wasn't called "New Age" at the time, a new age revival of "Druidism" in Britain and Wales.

Of course, it was complete or almost complete fabrication woven from whole cloth. The real Druidic traditions or culture were pretty much wiped out by the ruthless efficiency of the Romans, and also because the Druids never wrote anything down and left no record of their own.

But maybe it inspired the Welsh in particular to fan the embers of thier dying language and known traditions, to the point where they have resurected a culture that inexplicably survived, if not intact, over the long centuries of Roman, Saxon, Norman, Christian and finally English persecution.

And now, many people are appropriating Celtic art and bona fide or not, New Agey connections to what is thought to be Celtic natural medicine, etc.

As a person who finds that kind of thing, at best hoaky, at worst dangerously magical thinking, as a probable Celt, I wear a silver ring with a particular Celtic design.

Or, at least I am told it is a Celtic design. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

Does the historical veracity of the claim that the design is "Celtic" really matter in the final analysis?

It's certainly Celtic now.

saga saga's picture

[url=http://www.940news.com/nouvelles.php?cat=23&id=71979]http://www.940news....

It would help if the govie did a little consulting before appropriating!

Yiwah

quote:


Originally posted by sknguy:
[QB]
And another thing... lol, we've also been guilty of appropriating our traditions. When we present them in a manner that pleases asthetics.
[QB]

What...you mean things like...the fact that the medicine wheel is not a universal symbol? Nor are ribbon shirts traditional to all First Nations and Metis? Etc?

Yiwah

quote:


It would help if the govie did a little consulting before appropriating!


What I really like is the symbol of the Inukshuk being used for the Vancouver games...in what is decidedly NOT Inuit territory. Like holding games in Alberta and using a totem pole symbol.

Oh wait...totem poles don't go next to tipis?

Tommy_Paine

At Cypress Lake provincial park, on the Bruce Peninsula, the park staff got fed up with people making Inukshuks with the abundant rocks. There are now signs telling people not to do this, and telling people that if they do, they will be taken down.

Sven Sven's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Yiwah:
[b]
What I really like is the symbol of the Inukshuk being used for the Vancouver games...in what is decidedly NOT Inuit territory. Like holding games in Alberta and using a totem pole symbol.

Oh wait...totem poles don't go next to tipis?[/b]


Aren't totem poles used to hold up tipis???

[img]tongue.gif" border="0[/img]

NorthernWoman

I thnk it's what the Inukshuk symbolizes is why they chose it. The kayak is an Inuit invention (shoulda patented that one, dammit!)and it is now all over the world etc. However, since the games are in BC and in Coast Salish territory, they should have used a Coast Salish design. It would have been respectful to do so. Somebody didn't think it through.

sknguy

quote:


Originally posted by Yiwah:
[b]

What...you mean things like...the fact that the medicine wheel is not a universal symbol? Nor are ribbon shirts traditional to all First Nations and Metis? Etc?[/b]


I'm actually thinking more of things like dream catchers and brades of sweetgrass used as ornamentation; the occassions when we don't use things for their intended purposes. I've been guilty of this in the past too. So, I was thinking when we misrepresent their underlying meanings.

There is something that underlies the use of "things". At some point, a spirit made a contribution to your existence, by offering you something to help you. Whether it's food or anything else. It's one thing to appropriate things, and to missrepresent them. But a more fundamental issue is the manner of honouring the Spirits. That's a whole other but related topic. I can't speak to anything other than what's Nakawe.

As long as something used is; 1. serving a necessary purpose, and 2. respectful of the Spirit. If someone is disrespecting something you've given them, you can always take it back and give it to someone else.

Makwa Makwa's picture

quote:


Originally posted by sknguy:
[b]I'm actually thinking more of things like dream catchers and brades of sweetgrass used as ornamentation; the occassions when we don't use things for their intended purposes. [/b]

There was a period of time when I carried a dreamcatcher and an eagle feather on a birch staff made for me and given to me respectively by a departed friend when I was disabled. I needed it to walk and I felt that the symbols gave me strength when I was in a lot of pain, physically, mentally and spiritually. I knew it was outside of it's purpose. But it's meaning for me was powerful.

I think sometimes we are allowed to appropriate symbols if the meaning is important and helps us to live. I wouldn't do it again. It was only in the fact that it was a gift in a time of need that I felt allowed to carry it with me. Otherwise I keep them where they belong, in a place of respect. Now I lack this friendship, and carry no symbols. I would not presume to carry a symbol empty of its meaning, as that would be demeaning to the spiritual significance of the symbol itself, which represents thousands of years of tradition that I normally wouldn't presume to apply to myself.

zazzo

I have been thinking about the use of symbols, in the context of things that are used as part of ceremony, that have a spiritual significance.

When I was growing up, there was no use of sweetgrass in a ceremony. We used sweetgrass in the making of things, which we then used to sell, in order to support our families. Now, many of my Anishinaabe people use sweetgrass to do smudging ceremonies. To me, it is not the sweetgrass that is important so much as the prayers that accompany the burning of it, it is the respectful, humble feelings, and feeling of gratitude, that one has during the ceremony. I personally would not mind if a non-indigenous person used sweetgrass, or sage, to do a smudging ceremony, as long as the person doing it was respectful and loving toward others. If it was done for the right reasons.

We also have to remember that many things have been lost, when Christianity came to our people, when our children were taken away from us and put into residential schools. In my community, when I was a child in the 50s and 60s, there were no ceremonies, we were not taught our language. At the same time, many Catholic ceremonies were appropriated by our ancestors, and used to keep alive some of our traditions. Are they still Anishinaabe? Yes, I believe so. When I lived in northwestern Ontario, my mother-in-law would come to my house, every once in a while and she would throw a handful of cedar on the stove, and the sweet smell would pervade the house. At the time, I did not realize she was smudging, as it is called now. I only know she did it without a whole lot of fanfare (I can’t think of the appropriate word in English), and she did it to teach me by showing me.

For those who grew up without a connection to a community, and there are many of our people who did, those children stolen, and put in schools or adopted out, it can be very hard. I would say to those, that it is up to you to develop your traditions. You know that you have lost something, and it is up to you to find it again.
I am not saying that Anishinaabe traditions are not deserving of respect, and those who grew up with it are very fortunate. But it seems to me that these traditions, that started thousands of years ago, were started by someone. Some one of our ancestors decided that a ceremony of remembrance was needed, and thought of one or dreamed of one, and acted on it, and passed it on to their relatives.
I recently lost my brother, and we decided to do a ceremony of remembrance. We had bits and pieces from the memories of our family members. And though we did not know the whole of it, we went ahead and did it anyway. I am sure that the spirit of my brother was pleased at what we did, because we did it to remember him, and we did it out of love.

So we can choose what our path will be, we can decide as respectful, loving human beings to recognize our connection to the earth, to our ancestors, and to people and beings who live on this earth. We can choose who our family is, by blood, by spiritual connections, by friendship, by what the Creator has put on our path. He/she did not give us life for no reason, but for us to learn from each other, and become strong from adversity. To keep on. I am sorry if I sound like I am preaching, that is not my intent, but to share my experience, and to help a little.

I would also like to comment on the appropriation by white people of symbols of FN culture. The only thing that I would speak out against is for someone who is not indigenous of a particular tribe, to pretend to be one. I know that this has happened, but speaking for myself, for someone to do this is disrespectful, not only of the culture that they are appropriating for themselves, it is disrespectful of their own culture. For those whose spirituality includes a belief in a Creator (as mine does), it is also a slap at the hands of the Creator, who gave you the gift of life. And often, they (the pretenders) do not know, that we know, that they are not who they say they are. And a lot of times, such people are avoided.

For those who have been trained as medicine people, I think it is they who decide who to pass on their knowledge to. I think they are looking for apprentices, who have the courage, the desire, and who understand the responsibility that is involved. I have attended sweat lodges, and it is true that one goes into a lodge, not for oneself, but to help another. And usually, in doing so, one is helped at the same time. There has to be a compelling reason to go into a lodge. It can be a powerful experience, but only if one has the right attitude, which is respectful and humble. I don’t think you can fool the spirits of the ancestors, or of the Creator. If one goes in for purely physical reasons, such as in a sauna, then that is what you will get out of it.

I thought I would share a little of my experience, and to add to the discussions, that I find very interesting.
I am not sure why I posted this, but I felt it necessary for me to speak.

Miigwech.

Michelle

Sven, I've received a complaint about your comment. Maybe you just meant it as a joke, but because of your past in this forum, it wasn't funny.

I think when you were suspended last time, I posted that when you get back, you would not be welcome to post in the Aboriginal issues forum, the feminism forum, or the anti-racism forum. Perhaps I just posted it on the board and you missed it, and no one told you directly. Well, I'm telling you directly now. You've been too hostile in these forums in the past to contribute constructively now.

Please do not post in these forums. Lots of others for you to choose from.

sknguy

Ah-how, Makwa. I think that you’d made good use of the things you’ve been given opportunity to use. You’ve made a Spiritual use of a Spiritual thing. It seems a complicated thing, our relationships with the "things" we use. All the protocols and traditions. And it’s impossible to understand everything about how those relationships work. These traditions, symbols, and objects we use are all about maintaining respectful relationships.

Part of my job is helping my community figure out how these things, these concepts, can possibly function along side modern living. It’s tough. I haven’t learned the patience of the Elders. How to accept and come to terms with my frustrations with modern living. The toughest part is the seeming indifference towards the knowledge.

quote:

Originally posted by zazzo:
[b]

So we can choose what our path will be, we can decide as respectful, loving human beings to recognize our connection to the earth, to our ancestors, and to people and beings who live on this earth. We can choose who our family is, by blood, by spiritual connections, by friendship, by what the Creator has put on our path. He/she did not give us life for no reason, but for us to learn from each other, and become strong from adversity. To keep on. I am sorry if I sound like I am preaching, that is not my intent, but to share my experience, and to help a little.

[/b]


That is true. It is all about relationships. The things we’ve learned from our environment lives on in the knowledge we pass on. Just as generations of unnamed people have preserved this knowledge for us. We have to be confident in the knowledge that what we invest in the children, and their generations, is what lives on. If someone makes use of something, it should be for the benefit of maintaining that healthy, respectful relationship. That's how we teach. I should add... "and what we teach".

[ 20 July 2007: Message edited by: sknguy ]

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Urban Outfitters Nixes 'Navajo Hipster Panty' After Complaints From American Indians

Quote:
 Urban Outfitters has removed the word "Navajo" from product names on its website in the wake of criticism from the Navajo Nation government, bloggers and others, who viewed the usage as disrespectful and a trademark violation.

As recently as last week, the trendy clothing chain used "Navajo" in more than 20 product names online, including jackets, earrings and sneakers. Two items in particular sparked controversy: the "Navajo Hipster Panty" and the "Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask."

The products now appear on the company's website as "printed" instead of "Navajo."

I didn't post this story as the latest edition of an "isn't that racist" series, but to point to an increasingly visible (especially in the US) appropriation of FN symbols by the urban hipster set. Headdresses, moccassins and other generic, decontextualized fashion items are becoming quite popular. Has anyone noticed this latest example of colonialist appropriation in their town?

Mr.Tea

I was out at a concert a while back in a fairly "hipster" bar and the opening act's lead singer was wearing a traditional feathered head dress on her head...

Maysie Maysie's picture
Freedom 55

Catchfire wrote:

I didn't post this story as the latest edition of an "isn't that racist" series, but to point to an increasingly visible (especially in the US) appropriation of FN symbols by the urban hipster set. Headdresses, moccassins and other generic, decontextualized fashion items are becoming quite popular. Has anyone noticed this latest example of colonialist appropriation in their town?

 

I've certainly heard plenty about this (apparent) trend, but can't say that I've noticed it locally. At least not in the hipster context. Now local hippies...

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Right in my backyard! (Navajo?): Love Jules Leather steps into shoes

Quote:
“We were like, ‘Man, we kinda wanna do something footwear-wise—but not a moccasin and not a finely handcrafted men’s shoe, either, because to do a finely crafted men’s shoe, you really have to apprentice in cobbling and Jules is a leathersmith,” says Blodans, who handles the business end of their label. He recently sat down with the Straight at a Vancouver café during one of his work-related day trips to the city. “We wanted to start off easy and not bite off more than we could chew.”

With that in mind, they created a funked-up version of the topsider they’ve coined the Westsider. And it’s gorgeous. The red acid-washed Italian lambskin leather style ($250), for example, is cut like a classic Sperry but way more rock ’n’ roll.

For more of an Aboriginal vibe, the Navajo-inspired tan-and-light-brown shoes with hand-etched images of bald eagles on the upper toes ($275) are pretty awesome, too. Then there are the lace-up high-tops. Among my faves here are the distressed tan-leather boat booties with turquoise Pendleton fabric detailing on the sides and western pistol imagery hand-etched on the upper toes ($350). Each style is a unique piece of art in its own right. But that doesn’t mean the twosome have mastered shoemaking quite yet.

$350!

6079_Smith_W

Catchfire wrote:

Has anyone noticed this latest example of colonialist appropriation in their town?

Is it a new trend? I am not aware that it ever went away.

Maysie Maysie's picture
RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

I've just started reading but wish I could draw on stuff like this more often:

Quote:

I bring this topic up precisely because it does scare and confuse and inflame. Except I want to avoid all that negative stuff as best I can. I won’t be completely successful, but that is because there are no set-in-stone rules here. There is no ‘common’ sense, because our viewpoints on the subject can and will diverge radically and we lack a common understanding.

What a great way to start a discussion. I need to save that.

I'm not a good reader, so many words Maysie. ;)

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

One more quote:

Quote:

Before I go on, I want to discuss something. I do not care if you are religious, spiritual, or atheist. These are choices you make, and I respect them. However, because of the turbulent history of religion in western settler philosophy (and in many other parts of the world, from whence Canadians come), the translation of terms from our languages into the word ‘sacred’ can sometimes cause trouble. Let’s talk about that for a second.

I feel that when other cultures discuss ‘sacred’ things, some people feel obligated to reject or elevate those things because of how they feel about their own religious traditions, or their atheism. The issue gets confused as being about ‘religion’, when that is not necessarily what is going on.

Usually when we say ‘sacred’, there are more complex terms in our own language that apply…all of which basically mean to impart that the thing in question is ‘important and meaningful in a specific way’. When you see the term ‘sacred’, please remember that.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Etsy Is A Breeding Ground For Native American Stereotypes

Quote:
Yea I'm being crude, rude, and blunt. But it needs to be said (see the "Native Princess and Sky Quilted Vintage Purple Meditation Wrap Kimono Vest by MountainGirlClothing" to the left - hey, it's on sale too). 

Ok, so, the deal on Etsy - Etsy is "the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace." In other words, people make stuff, find vintage stuff, and then sell it on Etsy in their cyber shops. In theory, it is a great way to launch small businesses. Think about it, you can operate a small business out of your home in rural Tinyville and reach millions of people throughout the world with just a few clicks. In theory, it is a fantastic resource for artists and 'crafters'. And, in theory, Etsy can serve as a great resource for Native American artists and designers (note, I did not say 'crafters' - that's a different story).

So I hit up Etsy with full force last November. I searched for Native artists and small businesses to feature on Beyond Buckskin. And I found some really great ones (click here to see some legit work). I have a little Etsy jar where I set aside money to buy my favorite items (earrings) from Native-run Etsy shops. I'm excited.

BUT, there's a dark side to Etsy. Yes, and normally I consider the 'dark side' to be a good thing, but in this case, it's not, it's just tacky. 

First, if you go on Etsy and search "Native American," good luck finding items that are actually "Native American" (and, just to be clear, I mean, 'made by Native Americans'), instead you will find items made by non-Natives, but inspired by Native cultures. And you probably know where this is going:

sknguy II

Will S wrote:

...I have difficulty believing each tribe or nation came up with their own ritual without having observed or participated in it elsewhere, so I assume the differences are part of the normal pattern of culturals diverging, changing and adapting to different circumstances. Were different tribes or nations appropriating the concept for their own use - yes, probably...

Sorry this is so old, but I'd been re-reading this thread and had forgoten about my urge to respond to this comment in the past. The exchange of ceremonies is the exchange of knowledge. In order for a person to be able to use some specific knowledge it was always important to be given permissions to do so. The same is true for ceremonies as it is for storytelling, among other things. A person shouldn't use knowledge, or ceremonies, without first going through the protocols of receiving proper permissions, along with receiving the proper knowledge.

Appropriation is something that would not have been an acceptable practice and would likely have caused concern within a community. In a practical sense, appropriation can cause harm if one used knowledge that they hadn't been properly given/permitted, or been instructed on, or followed protocols on. Our ancesstors probably only thought of themselves as stewards of the ceremonies and knowledge. And definitely not owners or appropriators.

Further up in the thread I noted that we're nothing without knowledge. To add to that, we're nothing without the land, and our environments, from which our knowledge comes. Without our environments to learn from we'd know nothing. Like our ancestors, we're simply the stewards of knowledge, the stewards of what we learn. We hold no "intellectual property" to knowledge because it belongs to the teachers (in our environments) not us the students.

I think your presumption that different communities appropriated ceremonies from one another causes harms to the understandings of my ancesotr's culture. Because, to add to that, the treatment and commodity of knowledge (and I don't mean monetary commodity) is a very complex topic. At its core, we're suppose to honour all that knowledge has allowed us to be, and become. And we need to show some respect for the teachers. Like the ceremonies, knowledge isn't about power and control, it's about a burden of responsibilities.

Kaspar Hauser

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture

sknguy, I should have said this earlier, but that was a great post.

 

More from the Uh-oh department:

 

Johnny Depp as Cultural Appropriation Jack Sparrow...I mean Tonto.

Quote:
There was a bunch of controversy over the casting of Johnny Depp to begin with--and I was right on board, mad that they hadn't cast a Native actor in the role. The Johnny defenders note that he has Indian heritage that he's proud of...so proud that he says it probably started with a rape:

Quote:
“The interesting thing, if you find out you’ve got Native American blood, which a lot of people do, is you think about where it comes from and go back and read the great books, Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee or [John Ehle's] Trail of Tears, you have to think, somewhere along the line, I’m the product of some horrific rape. You just have that little sliver in your chemical makeup.”

and this:

Quote:
"I guess I have some Native American (in me) somewhere down the line. My great grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek."

That's a whole 'nother post. But I think it gives you some context as to how "connected" and "proud" Johnny is of his ancestry. Always the Cherokee great-grandma, amiright?

 

sknguy II

Was rummaging yotube last night and came across this Battles video for a song titled "Tonto". Good music. Here's one of the comments that was posted

Quote:

From musicbayfans:

Amazing band.. hipster music? Wtf this shit has a original aspect to it and just works well. Mirrors and Gloss Drop are both great. Hell even there early works are good!"

Well coolness is bliss anyway. In all... Battles makes very good music and Tonto is a very good piece.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Paul Frank offends every Native person on the planet with Fashion Night Out "Dream Catchin' Pow wow"

Fashion's Night Out is now in its fourth year--an annual night for residents of New York, LA, and other fashionable cities to get dressed up in sky-high heels and totter from retail outlet to retail outlet, pushing through hoards of similarly clad city dwellers attempting to partake in free cocktails and canapes. Stores host "celebrity" appearances--though it seems to be mostly reality stars and folks whose 15 minutes may have faded a few years ago. Overall it's a fun-filled chance to celebrate fashion and leave a huge mess behind for working class folks to clean up.

Do I sound bitter and jaded about this "fun" and "fashionable" night of joyous revelry? I am. I am, because this year for Fashion's Night Out, the PR team at Paul Frank in LA decided they would host an event called "Dream Catchin' with Paul Frank" a "pow wow celebrating Fashion's Night Out." The Hollywood Reporter described the event as:

...a neon-Native American powwow theme. Glow-in-the-dark war-painted employees in feather headbands and bow and arrows invited guests to be photographed on a mini-runway holding prop tomahawks.

Jessica Metcalfe at Beyond Buckskin posted the photos of the event last night on her FB page, and I honestly couldn't believe what I was seeing. Just looking at the flyer posted above was enough to send me into a cultural appropriation Hulk rage. How clever, the font of the "Dream Catchin'" looks like teepees! How clever, the Paul Frank monkey is wearing warpaint and a sacred headdress! How clever, we put him in the center of a dream catcher, complete with pony beads and neon feathers!

And response: Paul Frank Powwow Party Update: Am I dreaming?

There were some hints in the email that this wasn't going to be my typical dismissive conversation (they want to learn from their mistake?! They've taken steps to address the situation?!), so I was already feeling better about the whole thing going into the call. Mr. Dekel also reached out to Jessica Metcalfe (of Beyond Buckskin), so we decided to have a conference call with the three of us. Unfortunately, Ms. Beyond Buckskin is in Canada for a visit, and her phone was being mean and wouldn't let her call in. So I talked to Mr. Dekel on my own (but then immediately filled in Jessica afterward, don't worry). She's going to be following up with him next week when she's back home.

The phone call went so much better than I could have even imagined. Elie was gracious, sincere, and kind from the beginning, and truly apologetic. He took full responsibility for the event, and said he wanted to make sure that this was something that never happened again, and wanted to learn more so he could educate his staff and colleagues. We talked about the history of representations of Native people in the US, and I even got into the issues of power and privilege at play--and the whole time, he actually listened, and understood. Such a refreshing experience.

I could go on and on about the call, but enough background, here are the incredible, amazing, mind-boggling action steps that the company has taken and has promised to take in the near future:

  • They have already removed all of the Native inspired designs from their digital/online imprint 
  • The company works off a "Style Guide" that includes all of the digital art for the company, and then separate manufacturing companies license those images and turn them into products. Elie and his staff have gone through the style guide, even into the archives, and removed all of the Native imagery, meaning no future products will be produced with these images.
  • They have sent (or it will be sent today) a letter to all of their manufacturers and partners saying none of this artwork is authorized for use and it has been removed from their business
  • Elie has invited Jessica and I to collaborate with him on a panel about the use of Native imagery in the industry to be held at the International Licensing Merchandisers Association (LIMA) conference in June. This would reach a large and incredibly influential audience all in one place.

and the MOST exciting part:

  • Paul Frank Industries would like to collaborate with a Native artist to make designs, where the proceeds would be donated to a Native cause!

Elie said he wants to learn how this can be done in an appropriate and respectful manner, and that they're not "looking to profit" from this. On top of it, we've set actionable next steps to make all of this happen, and he's even assigned staff members to stay on it so it doesn't slip through the cracks.

 

 

onlinediscountanvils

[url=http://theflyingv.com/music/dont-be-an-asshole-just-say-no-to-cultural-a... Del Rey's headdress[/url]

Quote:
Actually Lana, it’s not Okay.

If you find yourself confused, allow me to explain: appropriating an important cultural symbol to wear as an accessory is fucking offensive. Treating any cultural identity or ethnicity as a costume is fucking offensive, but this is especially bad. Headdresses, warbonnets, and even feathers have huge spiritual significance to certain Native communities. They are not a fashion statement. They are not an accessory. They represent honour and respect, and must be earned, which I doubt was the case with Lana.

In wearing it she over-simplifies a huge, diverse and still-colonized group of people, fetishizes Native women – already 2.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in the U.S., and helps make a racist, ignorant stereotype even more popular.

 

[url=http://tequilasovereign.blogspot.ca/2012/10/survival-of-fittest-and-othe... of the Fittest and Other Imperial Tales of Conquest[/url]

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The truth about The Gap, Paul Frank, and Scott Brown is that they are not aberrations in an otherwise politically correct nation. This country that we live in has not moved on or away from its racisms towards Indians. Though there are countless reasons why this is so, I would like to think about two of them for here.

First, the ability to done Indian war paint, regalia, and weapons -- to treat Indians as costumes of the past -- is directly related to the ability to pretend race and racism are things of the past. Putting Indians on as costumes is about pretending that you (yourself) and the US are so civilized and evolved that -- of course -- such play is just playful. There is no racism where good will and fun exist.

Second, keeping Indians in the past is about being able to continue to exploit Native/Indigenous lands, cultures, and bodies. If, after all, the only good Indian is a dead Indian (the only real Indian an Indian of a 100 years ago), then current Native/Indigenous claims to treatied land rights, cultural autonomy, and reproductive rights are irrelevant because they are not claims being made by real Native/Indigenous peoples.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I thought I would revive a thread to post this outrageous example of cultural appropriation.

Fort Nelson Secondary School is standing by its decision to invite two white performers in headdresses to tell indigenous stories, despite objections from a local First Nation and elsewhere.

http://globalnews.ca/news/3413893/fort-nelson-school-indigenous-performa...

Rev Pesky

I think this is the place for this story:

The question is, is this culturally appropriate? Some think not.

NOW magazine cover

"This cover is not empowering, regardless of the material contained within, it is insulting and diminishing."

"You would do well to apologize immediately and pull this issue." 

...Who thought that portraying Indigenous people as animals was a good idea? Who thought that mish mashing of cultures and trivializing of sacred items was a good idea??? How many people had to sign off in this?

...All individuals responsible for the cover picture needs to be fired.

This better not be circulated tomorrow.

...This is disgusting, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Personally I think it's kind of cute. But that's just me.

pookie

The discussion immediately following NOW's apology tweet is illuminating.  Er, not in a good way.

Paladin1

`All individuals responsible for the cover picture needs to be fired.`

Standard response to being offended.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Apparently, NOW Magazine bears sole responsiblility for this, since they hired an Indigenous artist in the first place, and presumably let him follow his bliss. 

It would have been so much more empowering for that artist if NOW had said "OK, thanks Jason.  That's super.  It really is.  But could you tone it down with the bears-as-people thing?  Just spitballing, but what about an Elder smoking a nug of kush from a peace pipe or something?  Brad from Marketing has some concerns here, and we're not trying to tell you how to do your art, but we kind of need something our advertisers can get behind without being boycotted."

WWWTT

Twenty years ago you would never hear or see any kind of story like this in Canada. Probably because no main media outlet would ever give a Native Canadian any credibility. 

But I though that the wearing of traditional ceremonial cloth and head dress by non Indigenous people’s was the no no. Didn’t know this is extended to artistic characatures.  

Pondering

I think had the artist been identified as FN it would not have offended. It changes the message because Canada is racist. It is fair for FN people to be prickly. I don't think people should be fired but I do think someone should have noticed. Maybe someone did but didn't speak up. They should discuss, as a hopefully progressive organization, how to avoid a repeat.

Rev Pesky

A couple of quotes from the artist himself:

"I understand that art and social responsibility should go hand in hand and if some find this approach offensive, I sincerely apologize,

..."I think it's important to reclaim that iconography, that Indigenous iconography," Carter said. "As an Aboriginal artist, feeling that I can't explore that sort of subject matter feels a bit silly to me."

The first statement above I cannot agree with. Art is art, and is inspired. Can any artist tell us where an idea came from? If that is the case, then real art can have nothing to do with social responsibility, because after all, what is socially responsible in one society may be irresponsible in another, or in another era. In fact I think it's quite dangerous for artists to think of social responsibiltiy. The end result of that is those wonderful Maoist paintings from the Cultural Revolution, thus;

Another example I'll give is the premiere of "The Rite Of Spring", when the audience nearly rioted. Such was the reception that the piece wasn't preformed again for seven years. A socially responsible artist could never have produced such a piece.

Carter's second statement (second as posted by me - these two things weren't all he said) is a bit different, and I certainly agree with his saying that not being able to explore his iconography makes him feel a 'bit silly'. As an indigenous (his description) artist he has the right to depict things any which way he chooses.

But at the same time, I disagree with the whole idea of 'cultural appropriation'. Think of American music. Jazz, blues, country and western, rock & roll, are all types of music that arose from the melding of different cultures, brought together for the first time in the USA. All are musical styles that are appreciated around the world.  But if you went back, and enforced the separation of the various types of music, none of it would exist today. For me, that would  be a terrible loss.

Inspiration in art comes from whereever it comes from. Artists accumulate experience over their lifetimes, and use their experience to produce art. Some of it, perhaps the largest part, is bad to mediocre, but some of it is of great beauty, and inspires the emotions in the average citizen, pointing to a higher purpose in life. By trying to confine art to socially resoponsible, and culturally limited, forms, we risk losing the best of what art has for humanity.

pookie

Pondering wrote:

I think had the artist been identified as FN it would not have offended. It changes the message because Canada is racist. It is fair for FN people to be prickly. I don't think people should be fired but I do think someone should have noticed. Maybe someone did but didn't speak up. They should discuss, as a hopefully progressive organization, how to avoid a repeat.

Like, declining to hire any Indigenous artist in the future?

Or, perhaps NOW should have told thia artistthat his work is probably going to offend someone, somewhere and therefore is rejected?  Would that not have generated equal outrage and screams of censorship from the very same people?

I remain puzzled as to what NOW should have done here.  Not every FN person finds this image offensive. If NOW talks to some who happen not to, is it bound to search until it finds some who do?

 

Unionist

Indigenous people continue daily to be impoverished, disenfranchised, dispossessed, dehumanized, disproportionately assaulted and murdered and incarcerated, in our self-satisfied "democratic" society... and some people want to make an issue about "cultural appropriation" or "offensive" caricatures - by an Indigenous artist. Very convenient diversion. This is such an infuriating story. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan is portrayed by the same media as a battle between Alberta and B.C. and Canada, with Indigenous people relegated to nothing. Something is rotten in our state.

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan is portrayed by the same media as a battle between Alberta and B.C. and Canada, with Indigenous people relegated to nothing. Something is rotten in our state.

Worse - they are also being used as a foil. Those Nations which support the pipeline are being held up against Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities which oppose it.

We don't assume that other people's approval in Alberta or the B.C. Interior discounts the opposition of those along the coast. Why do some buy that spurious argument just because it uses Indigenous people? Because we just assume we can appropriate their voices, that is why.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I think had the artist been identified as FN it would not have offended.

I wonder how they would casually slide that in?

"Cover art by Jason Carter, who by the way just happens to be Indigenous, not that that's why we hired him or anything, unless it's good that we did, but anyway, again, Indigenous, OK?"

If I may make one small edit to your post?

Magoo wrote:
I think had people not assumed the artist was not FN it would not have offended.

Rev Pesky

From Unionist:

...and some people want to make an issue about "cultural appropriation" or "offensive" caricatures - by an Indigenous artist. Very convenient diversion.

I'll just point out that this particular thread is specifically dedicated to First Nations cultural symbols and appropriation. If I had decided to put this into one of the pipeline threads, I think you could describe that as a 'diversion'. I didn't, and it's not.

Rev Pesky

From 6079_Smith_W:

Unionist wrote:

Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan is portrayed by the same media as a battle between Alberta and B.C. and Canada, with Indigenous people relegated to nothing. Something is rotten in our state.

​To which 6079_Smith_W replied:

Worse - they are also being used as a foil. Those Nations which support the pipeline are being held up against Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities which oppose it.

You can't have it both ways. Either they are being ignored completely, or they​​'re being used as a foil. The one denies the other. And I'm not sure those First Nations who support the pipeline would agree with the implication they are nothing more than a foil.

6079_Smith_W

No I don't think you are quite getting my point. No one claims that because some white people in Calgary support the pipeline that it is in all white people's best interest. Yet these businesses and politicians make that claim about Indigenous people, even though it doesn't make any sense either.

It's not that they don't have legitimate interests, but that isn't really the point; the point is there are people at the other end of the pipe who have to deal with a spill and have grounds to prevent it. The fact there are some Indigenous supporters doesn't have any bearing on that.

 

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