Cultural Appropriation: Whose culture is it anyway, and what about hybridity?
Sonny Hallett

Thanks for writing this and sharing your personal experience. For me as an Indigenous American, I have to deal with non-indigenous people appropriating and SELLING my culture. This is not simply trying to be edgy or avantgarde at a music festival. This appropriation has financial impact. People steal Indigenous art, songs, ceremonies, and stories, repackage them and then market them as Native American INSPIRED. When an un-educated tourist has a choice between a “made in China” object which is a few dollars or the item made by an Indigenous Artist which costs a few hundred, what do you guess they are going to choose. I’m not upset with the tourist, I’m upset with the person who has appropriated a culture not their own, for personal monetary gain. The Indian Arts and Crafts act — A US federal law — provides some remedies for protection but only for crafts. Songs, stories, or ceremonies are not protected. Subsequently, there are individuals who cherry pick different elements from different North American and South American Indigenous cultures, repackage them and then offer, “Cleansing Native rituals” or, “Learn to be a shaman in one weekend.” I could go on, but my point is, the arts and crafts act does not protect ceremony and song and the crafts of non-American Indigenous peoples have no protections. And, there have been deaths from these repackaged ceremonies led by people who don’t know what they are doing.

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