The Indigenous Dystopia.

Over the course of the past week we looked at several texts together as a class, many of which were about Indigenous people and how they have lived, but more important was how they have struggled. There was one story that we looked at this past week however, that I took a specific interest in and I think that others will as well, especially after looking over this post. The story is called Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience, and it discusses cultural appropriation but in an interesting, modern and futuristic way so that the reader is engaged in the text all the way to the very end of it.

Above this is a link that explains the story in enough detail to catch everyone up on the uttermost essential details of the story. There is not so much detail however, as to give all the details of the story away for those who might be interested in reading the story after reading this post. (Something I would highly reccomend and encourage everyone to do, which is why I have included a link to the story at the end of this post!)

Cultural Appropriation…

While I really enjoyed this story and thought that it was very interesting to read, I thought that it also brought up the issue of cultural appropriation in a very clever way. Many stories that have underlying messages surrounding cultural appropriation often discuss it in either a) ways that do not entice people to get them interested and involved in the issue or b) in terms relevant to solely past events. Many texts that discuss the topic, talk about it in ways that have also already been done, many people will bring up that cultural appropriation is popular around halloween for example, but very few texts do it in the same way that Rebecca Roanhorse does here. She talks about oppressor culture, and dives into the idea that not only do non-Indigenous people expect a certain image to come from Indigenous groups and people, but now some of the Indigenous people themselves feel as though they have to portray their own culture in a specific (and often stereotypical) manner.

The main problem that lies with cultural appropriation, and there are many, is that it is highly disrespectful. For example, some of these articles of clothing or dressings that have been at the heart of the cultural appropriation conversation are made to honour a culture and often act as a reward and have to be earned. By allowing general public to wear, say, traditional regalia at anytime, and allow it to be sold in costume shops, it takes away that special aspect of the garments for those that it should be meaningful to. The story that Roanhorse writes is not only one that discusses cultural appropriation, but is one that also begs readers to think of why it is they expect Indigenous people to look a certain way. Certainly this is in large part because of the movies, tv shows and books that all display the Indigenous in the same way. It is not okay to sexualize Indigenous men and women in a halloween costume, and it is not okay to fantasize and make the image of the Indigenous into something it is not meant to be. This message is what Roanhorse strives to have readers pull from it.

Here is a quick video that explains several points I was making previously but in a different way for those interested.

There are many examples of cultural appropriation every day in the modern world and many people either choose to turn a blind or do not see a problem with it because this is something that society has become accustomed to, unfortunately. Below I have included an image that goes to prove just how widely excepted and exploited cultural appropriation has become. Some of our favourite celebrities and influencers are guilty of this and often times also get away with it. Below in the image we have Katy Perry, Selena Gomez and a Victorias Secret Angel walking during the annual Victorias Secret fashion show. All of these images show how much cultural appropriation has been worked into our society and normalized by the modern media user. Reference the image below, and if it sparks interest in you please feel free to let me know in a comment what your opinion is on the media and cultural appropriation!

Final Thoughts…

Perhaps then, the dystopia we try to see in this is not available to non-Indigenous eyes. Why you may ask do I say this? I propose that non-Indigenous people cannot see the dystopia I speak of in this story because we are the creators of it. This is a dystopia that we have created for the Indigenous people, not only have we harmed them time and again in both the past and the present but we seem to have forgotten that they too are people. We have created an unrealistic expectation and mold of them, and not only is it unrealistic like I mentioned but it is disrespectful as well. We want to see their culture as only one thing and we want no meaning behind it, we just want fun costumes to dance around it actually. The only thing that this does for the Indigenous though is create a personal dystopia, one that is crafted by settlers and mainstream culture, and is just another way in which we have harmed them. We need to try and erase the Indigenous dystopia we have created and allowed to go on for as long as it has.

Click on me to read Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience! 🙂

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