Throughout the last few years, Native American culture has been put on the pedestal for its unique culture. It has been embraced from all over but also, misrepresented. When it comes to using certain items of Native American culture, one must always be aware. There is a fine line between cultural appreciation and appropriation.
What is Cultural Appropriation?
When it comes to cultural appropriation, imperialism, capitalism, oppression and assimilation is all compressed into one.
The appropriation is profitable which raises many red flags when it comes to embracing a culture. The exotic, edgy and different traditions turn into desires which make it sellable. In of being understanding a culture and learning about the depths of its rituals, items are sold as a “natural resource”.
Since it becomes a natural resource to the dominant culture, it becomes assimilated. It no longer is seen as a distinct culture but a part of the norm. This is dangerous because it strips away its uniqueness and categorizes it of a culture it was never a part of.
The Harm on Cultural Appropriation
The reason cultural appropriation is harmful because it goes back to the roots of a racial systematic structure. It is based on racism, genocide, and oppression.
This concept takes marginalized cultures and treats them as if they easy to take. This goes same treatment goes back many centuries when colonizers took native people, people of color and land as if they were nothing.
Native American Cultural Appreciation
As mentioned earlier, Native American culture has been used frequently throughout the years. It has been seen that headdresses have been worn to festivals, indigenous wardrobe has been used as costumes and even a baseball franchise has caused controversy for being called the Cleveland Redskins.
How to Honor Native American Culture
1. Support Native American Artists
What better way to support and Native American culture by supporting the people. If you want authentic Native American culture, acknowledge the people who carry Native American roots.
These are the people who have learned the craft of the indigenous people through generations.
2. Learn About Native American Movements
Native American people have been used and abused for many years. Their history is painful, whether it wants to be acknowledged or not but that is the truth.
Until this day, the Native American community suffers from many injustices whether it’s revitalizing their native language, fighting against women violence, teaching spirituality and much more.
Doing research on various movements, looking into the mission and seeing the outcome is one of the best options you can do.
3. Support Non-Native Companies and Organizations that Honor the Culture Correctly
There are also many companies and organizations that actively embrace the Native American community correctly. While there are many celebrities and companies abusing the culture, there are many who do it with much respect and knowledge.
Fang Jewelry is one jewelry company that does research on the significance of each symbol used on the jewelry to see how it can be incorporated into its collection.
Similar to doing research on what organization to help, you must also do your research on these companies as well. Figure out their mission, what they stand for and how they go about their work.