Ownership of Indigenous Cultures

Are the Indigenous cultures fair game for anyone to pick up and use to their own advantage? This question is not only directed to the New Age practioners, but at the "artists" who make money selling sometimes respectful, but somtimes twisted, versions of rock art figures and other Native American images. It applies to the lodges and clubs that use pseudo-Indian ceremonies and to the fake Indians who are "moderators" in AOL chat rooms and radio talk shows.

"All misguided and ill-founded opinions about Indians do us damage. However, the one that is often overlooked or even accepted because it seems to be less offensive - although ultimately, it is just as misleading and just as damaging - is the notion that Indians are or should be mystical and mysterious. When this is connected to the notion that Indians are capable of "communing" with nature, sensible Indian approaches to relating to the natural environment are obscured. Although we did - and do - commune with nature, that communion is not based on mystical abilities but on our acceptance of the realities of the physical world; in short, we accepted the facts of what nature is and does."
Joseph Marshall III
In Not All Indians Dance
On Behalf of the Wolf and the First Peoples, Red Crane Books

Plastic Shamans and Astroturf Sun Dances: New Age Commercialization of Native American Spirituality by Lisa Aldred, in American Indian Quarterly
Intellectual Property Rights from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office
Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality
White Shamans and Plastic Medicine Men A film by Terry Macy and Dan Hart
For All Who Were Indian in a Former Life by Andy Smith
"Wanting To Be Indian: When Spiritual Searching Turns Into Cultural Theft"
by Myke Johnson
"New Agers" and native wisdom Nora Bunce, Eastern Cherokee
with a comment by Robert Johnson
Statement on "Native-influenced" music
by Arlie Neskahi of the Rainbow Walker Music site.
Native Inspired or Influenced Musicians, also by Arlie
Lakhota Culture Today
If Only I Were An Indian, video available from the National Film Board of Canada

Cases of Obvious Cultural Theft
(Also see the Stereotypes and New Age Ripoff sections)

Alleged Native American and Certified Imposter Given Air Time By WKZO,
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Whistlings of the Gods, An Interview with Don Wright, Keeper of the Peruvian Whistling Vessels
A Night of Initiations
YMCA of the Triangle Y-Guides & Princesses Program

Indian Head Penny Return to Home

The People Involved with This Site