October 25, 2020
With Halloween, Day of the Dead, and Native American Heritage Month right around the corner, it’s a good time to talk about cultural appropriation. If you are unfamiliar with the concept or just want a refresher, here are some great resources.
1. Educate yourself! Read what Native writers have to say:
- There are many, many articles on the blog Native Appropriations, by Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), but this post might be helpful in particular: So your friend dressed up as an Indian. Now what?
- Here are several articles written in response to the controversy sparked by an editorial in Write magazine that (unironically) suggested the creation of an “appropriation prize” in literature:
- Alicia Elliott (Tuscarora) on ‘free speech’ arguments in the cultural appropriation debate
- Aylan Couchie (Anishinaabe) on what cultural appropriation isn't
- Lenny Carpenter (Attawapiskat) on the emotional toll of debating Indigenous views
- Laura Kooji (Anishnaabe) on who gets to decide what is or isn’t cultural appropriation
- Do you like the idea of supporting Native-owned businesses, but are unsure of the line between supporting Indigenous artisans and committing cultural appropriation? Check out this interview with Bethany Yellowtail (Crow and Cheyenne), curator of the B. Yellowtail Collective.
You can also check out Writing the Other’s primer, which is geared specifically to writers, but is still accessible to a general audience. Some other primers include:
- Relando Thompkins-Jones’ Seven Resources on Cultural Appropriation
- The AORTA Cooperative’s guiding questions,
- Arizona State University’s Project Humanities page
- or, this Jezebel primer
If you’ve already got a pile of things to read, try watching:
- This CBC Radio primer with Rosanna Deerchild (Cree)
- Cultural Survival’s webinar on Indigenous Resistance & Struggles Against Cultural Appropriation
- This interview with Bethany Yellowtail (Crow and Cheyenne) on appropriation in fashion
- This discussion with Rosanna Deerchild (Cree) and three Indigenous writers responding to the Write magazine editorial controversy
- This Origin of Everything episode from PBS
- Also from PBS — this What I Hear When You Say episode, which comes with a viewing guide (this link will open to a PDF document)
Are you a fan of podcasts? Then give these a listen:
- All My Relation’s Episode 7: Native Appropriations with Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee)
- Red Man Laughing’s Ryan McMahon (Anishinaabe) interviewing three of the founding members of ReMatriate, a grassroots, Indigenous women-led campaign to reclaim Indigenous identities
- RadioActive Youth Media’s episode on the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation from NPR’s KUOW station in Seattle, Washington
- In Theory’s Episode 3: Cultural Appropriation!
- An interview with Dr. Neal Lester, professor of English and director of Arizona State University’s Project Humanities program
- If you are a parent or guardian, you might find Jasmine Bradshaw’s First Name Basis podcast on how to avoid cultural appropriation to be especially helpful
And finally, don’t miss this bingo card, created by Dr. Sheila Addison LMFT, which makes it easy to spot cultural appropriation based on common reactions from people who are unwilling/unable to own up to their appropriative behaviors.