CulturalImperialism Selling the Indian - Commercializing and Appropriating American Indian Cultures
Selling Indian Culture has a Long History in America… Non-Indians have appropriated and distorted Native cultures for their own purposes. They have ignored the impact of the process on Native communities, these practices erode Native culture and identity.
Merchandising and Public Perception Distorted imagery affect the perceptions of the viewers – many of which are children, and perpetuates stereotypes.
CulturalAppropriation If your actions or behaviors offend someone, you are not “honoring” them.
Reckless Borrowing vs. Appropriate Cultural Sharing • Cultural property includes not only land and other tangible property, but ideas, traditions, and other non-tangibles. • Cultural property belongs to the cultural group, rather than to an individual. • Just as an individual has the right to control use of their property, the cultural group has the right to control the use of its property.
CulturalProperty When an individual uses another group's cultural properties without permission it is offensive because it distorts or is disrespectful to the group's beliefs. Most often this usage is exploitive for profit. Fire/Water Weekend: October 17 - 19Sweatlodge ceremony Facilitated by Tanya Sadagopan ("Firestarter")$170.00
Cultural imperialism is an intellectual extension of the nineteenth-century premise of Manifest Destiny. It is the ultimate intent of assimilation - Indians will no longer own their identity in the same way that Indians no longer own most of the land - it is a form of cultural genocide. Art based on stereotypic imagery.
The Environmental Indian The stereotype of American Indians as the original environmentalists, respecting and living in harmony with nature, has surged in recent decades.
Exploiting Indian Spirituality Non-Indians who participate in Indian ceremonies, wear American Indian religious symbols on clothing and jewelry, and purchase smudge bundles and dream catchers for use in their homes – without knowledge of what they are, how they are used, and why they are important - are exploiting Native spiritual practices.
False Images… Commercialism of spirituality and spiritual practices reduces a wide variety of cultures and individuals to a flat image. It is a false image of the consumer's own making, when someone chooses to believe the fantasy instead of the truth.
Don’t Allow Others to Take Advantage… Those who purchase sacred items or pay to participate in sweat-lodge ceremony, or adopt rituals without proper instruction – commit cultural imperialism. The re-invention of American Indian traditions by charlatans, for their own use, are fraudulent.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse…. • Native people DO NOT believe it is ethical to charge money for any ceremony or teaching. Anyone who charges even a penny is NOT authentic. • Native traditionalists believe the ONLY acceptable way to transmit traditional teachings is orally and face-to-face. Any allegedly traditional teachings in books or on websites are NOT authentic. • Learning medicine ways takes decades and must be done with great caution and patience out of respect for the Sacred. Any offer to teach you all you need to know in a weekend seminar or two is false.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse…. • Be wary of any " teacher" who claims sex is part of an alleged "ceremony.“ • Native beliefs are TRIBAL-SPECIFIC. There is NO "generic Indian" form of spirituality. There are as many differences from tribe-to-tribe as there are between Hinduism and the Church of England. • TRADITIONAL Elders are very cautious about changing rituals and mixing different customs. • TRADITIONAL Elders DO NOT believe that any ceremony can be done by anyone who feels like it.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse…. • If you were interested in Judaism, would you pay money to someone who said he could make you a Rabbi in just one weekend seminar? • If someone did this and then claimed that Jewish objections were foolish, we would recognize he was being anti-Semitic. • Native people DO NOT use the label Shaman. If it says New Age or Shamanism on the cover, it's not a good source for learning about Natives. • Use common sense - learn about these matters from reputable sources and in a more respectful manner.
Remember… Those who know, don’t say and those who say – don’t know.