But is it appropriate?
I think there is a lot to be said about cultural appropriation but I will share my thoughts on this. Not everyone will agree with me and although I am nehiyaw iskwew (cree woman), it does not make me an expert on this stuff.
In my opinion, I see two major components:
You should never wear anything that has ceremonial significance to another culture. Especially, when you don’t know the significance of an item.
This goes for all the head dresses, feathers or store bought sage bundles.
I will add some context and reasoning here:
So the Indian Act became law in 1876 (there are many things that we can talk about here, but I won’t, please go do the work to learn more about it), shortly after it became law, the residential school policy was enforced (1879), and then following that horrendous policy, our ceremonies, clothing and medicines were banned!!
Yup, you read that right, banned. So from 1884-1951 we were not allowed to practice our ceremonies, smudge, pray….be who we are!
It was all part of the plan to remove the “indian” in our people.
This 67 year prohibition had many effects on our people that are still being felt today.
I would recommend that if you are making “indigenous inspired”, “native inspired” or “indian” pieces of jewelry or other type products, just stop.
Again, our people were not able to sell or profit in any type of commerce for a great many years due to the Indian act and only now, are we able to create or sell jewelry to support ourselves and our families. So I would say please don’t take other artists designs or try profiting off of someone else’s creativity. Just don’t. Respect one another, appreciate the gifts that each one of us has. Appreciate, don’t appropriate.
I think that if you are doing your research, knowing who your artists are, embracing their work, respecting their uniqueness and appreciating their creativity, then wear those beaded earrings, wear those Treaty Six hoodies, wear those moccasins and know that our people have come a hell of a long way to get to where we are today.
So wear with pride and when someone asks you where you got it, you can say who made them, where they’re from and how they can find more of their work.
March 13, 2021-