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Author Topic: Appropriation or ancestry?  (Read 4889 times)

myeka

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Appropriation or ancestry?
« on: October 26, 2015, 07:25:34 pm »
I'm a fairly new pagan and being Canadian, I'm a huge mishmash of different cultures... mostly European (Irish, Scottish, French and Scandanavian).

I recently got into doing my family history and went quite far back on my mother's side. My grandpa was French Native and that is the side I went quite far back on. I know that there is Iriquios, Cree and Metis. I admittedly know very little about any of these cultures and really want to learn more. I often stop myself from delving into it though...

My cousin, who is dark skinned because her mother was Indian (from India), is quite involved in the native community in the area and married a native man. We are not close so I don't feel like I can talk to her about these things.

She really embraces her native side and I have uncles and cousins that have Metis status and are somewhat involved in the Native community. However because of tragic family history, the family is not involved with each other (and because of the very dark happenings - I do not want any involvement with them).

They are all darker-skinned but I feel because I got my dad's very white skin that I "should" stick to the European bits.

At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs? I feel awful even asking this question, like I should just forget it and stick to my Celtic/Scandanavian heritage.

LunaStar

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 08:16:03 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181530
I'm a fairly new pagan and being Canadian, I'm a huge mishmash of different cultures... mostly European (Irish, Scottish, French and Scandanavian).

I recently got into doing my family history and went quite far back on my mother's side. My grandpa was French Native and that is the side I went quite far back on. I know that there is Iriquios, Cree and Metis. I admittedly know very little about any of these cultures and really want to learn more. I often stop myself from delving into it though...

My cousin, who is dark skinned because her mother was Indian (from India), is quite involved in the native community in the area and married a native man. We are not close so I don't feel like I can talk to her about these things.

She really embraces her native side and I have uncles and cousins that have Metis status and are somewhat involved in the Native community. However because of tragic family history, the family is not involved with each other (and because of the very dark happenings - I do not want any involvement with them).

They are all darker-skinned but I feel because I got my dad's very white skin that I "should" stick to the European bits.

At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs? I feel awful even asking this question, like I should just forget it and stick to my Celtic/Scandanavian heritage.

 
I feel like you are free to learn about any practice and beliefs that interest you, as long as you are respectful to the culture.  For example, it has become quite popular for people to want to sport Native headdresses, which is considered to be extremely disrespectful by Native communities because of the hardships and honors that accompany the privilege of wearing a headdress.

myeka

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 09:10:38 pm »
Quote from: LunaStar;181534
I feel like you are free to learn about any practice and beliefs that interest you, as long as you are respectful to the culture.  For example, it has become quite popular for people to want to sport Native headdresses, which is considered to be extremely disrespectful by Native communities because of the hardships and honors that accompany the privilege of wearing a headdress.

 
But at which point are you free to practice it?

I feel like if I had been born with my mother's coloring it wouldn't be a question. Nobody would look at me and say, you shouldn't be doing that. But with my skin coloring I feel like it would be the opposite.

Yet that seems silly.

Redfaery

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 09:19:10 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181537
But at which point are you free to practice it?

I feel like if I had been born with my mother's coloring it wouldn't be a question. Nobody would look at me and say, you shouldn't be doing that. But with my skin coloring I feel like it would be the opposite.

Yet that seems silly.


It probably is. Your light skin doesn't invalidate your ancestry. It simply means you can "pass" as white.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

myeka

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 10:12:10 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;181538
It probably is. Your light skin doesn't invalidate your ancestry. It simply means you can "pass" as white.

 
Guess I'm just over thinking it!!

Altair

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2015, 10:24:04 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181540
Guess I'm just over thinking it!!


I dunno, I applaud your attempt to be sensitive.

Recognize that First Peoples/Native Americans have been dealing with folks who claim to be Indian--because family legend says somebody's great-great-grandmother on somebody's side was Indian--for a long time. I'm not saying you're that sort (it sounds like you've got solid family connections, even though you're estranged), but be prepared for people actually living that experience to regard you with suspicion.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

LunaStar

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2015, 11:13:46 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181540
Guess I'm just over thinking it!!

 
I don't think it would be cultural appropriation at all for you to practice it, since it technically is your culture.  And even if it weren't, I think as long as you were respectful to the culture it wouldn't be appropriation but rather appreciation.  I think the fact that you took the time to think this through and ask around shows you are respectful. :)

myeka

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2015, 11:54:55 pm »
Quote from: Altair;181542
I dunno, I applaud your attempt to be sensitive.

Recognize that First Peoples/Native Americans have been dealing with folks who claim to be Indian--because family legend says somebody's great-great-grandmother on somebody's side was Indian--for a long time. I'm not saying you're that sort (it sounds like you've got solid family connections, even though you're estranged), but be prepared for people actually living that experience to regard you with suspicion.

 
Yes, and it wasn't so far back in the family tree... it was "fairly" recent (my great grandmother) and I find it astounding how far back it goes. I have names, tribes, where they lived. It is the principal heritage in that part of the tree.. not just 1 or 2 off people.

I have also considered that these ancestors would be the most recent "pagan-like" in their beliefs. On all my European sides, they've been Catholic or Christian for centuries.

It is still, of course, a delicate thing and I think that no matter what I do I will keep it private to avoid offending anyone.

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2015, 08:52:06 am »
Quote from: myeka;181530
I'm a fairly new pagan and being Canadian, I'm a huge mishmash of different cultures... mostly European (Irish, Scottish, French and Scandanavian).

I recently got into doing my family history and went quite far back on my mother's side. My grandpa was French Native and that is the side I went quite far back on. I know that there is Iriquios, Cree and Metis. I admittedly know very little about any of these cultures and really want to learn more. I often stop myself from delving into it though...

My cousin, who is dark skinned because her mother was Indian (from India), is quite involved in the native community in the area and married a native man. We are not close so I don't feel like I can talk to her about these things.

She really embraces her native side and I have uncles and cousins that have Metis status and are somewhat involved in the Native community. However because of tragic family history, the family is not involved with each other (and because of the very dark happenings - I do not want any involvement with them).

They are all darker-skinned but I feel because I got my dad's very white skin that I "should" stick to the European bits.

At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs? I feel awful even asking this question, like I should just forget it and stick to my Celtic/Scandanavian heritage.


Race is not completely determined by skin color. They are plenty of "white looking" native Americans out there not every native American looks like an extra from twillight. If you are drawn to the magic, and to your roots then do it. Just delve into the magick with respect and with a whole lot of research both with ancestry and with the culture itself.

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2015, 01:18:40 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181530
They are all darker-skinned but I feel because I got my dad's very white skin that I "should" stick to the European bits.


First of all: "should"ing all over yourself is rarely food for you.

Quote
At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs?

 
At the point at which you are willing and able to commit to entering into a  responsible and respectful relationship with the people who would be teaching you about those practices.  Remember that tribal practices in their original form are very much rooted in a community, and that if you want to become a part of that community you will have to have the community's consent and agreement.

My basic feeling, in addition to that, is that if you are at "I saw some stuff in books and I want to do it" that's basically between you and the Powers; the moment you say "I am practicing something related to X tribe", however, you need to have an honest and respectful engagement with X tribe.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Jainarayan

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2015, 02:05:00 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181530
At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs?

 
When the gods, ancestors and spirits call you. Not when some else tells you are or are not. ;)

I am a pasty white Italian-American (Sicilian and southern Italian) with a Near Eastern paternal DNA haplogroup, and some northern European (possibly Germanic, Baltic and/or Celtic). I practiced Hinduism and still revere the Hindu gods, but I follow Ásatrú. If that's not minestrone soup, I don't know what is. :p Everything in proper context and intention.

Materialist

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2015, 07:27:22 pm »
Quote from: myeka;181530

At what point are you "native enough" to study and maybe practice some beliefs? I feel awful even asking this question, like I should just forget it and stick to my Celtic/Scandanavian heritage.


First, you can't pick your heritage-it's an accident of birth.  Second, just because some of your relatives are members of the Native community doesn't mean they know anything about the traditional ways, or want to know anything about them-they could be conservative Baptists for all anyone knows.

Sounds like a better idea would be to seek out the traditionalist segment of whatever tribe your relatives belong to-bringing along your genealogical records-and explain your interest in the culture.

Materialist

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2015, 10:06:09 am »
Quote from: myeka;181545

It is still, of course, a delicate thing and I think that no matter what I do I will keep it private to avoid offending anyone.


If you choose to go on the private research route, a couple guidelines: read books written by a tribal member, for the tribe. Not ones written by white people, or by a tribal member for white people. The latter two I've found to be of very poor quality. Second, you will need to learn the language. Manitous only get into a relationship with people who speak the language.

Culturally, the closest thing I know of that will give you an idea of what you're in for is the work of Basil Johnston of the Neyaashiinigmiing (who only died last month). The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway, and Ojibway Ceremonies are good introductions.

myeka

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2015, 03:36:54 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;181647
If you choose to go on the private research route, a couple guidelines: read books written by a tribal member, for the tribe. Not ones written by white people, or by a tribal member for white people. The latter two I've found to be of very poor quality. Second, you will need to learn the language. Manitous only get into a relationship with people who speak the language.

Culturally, the closest thing I know of that will give you an idea of what you're in for is the work of Basil Johnston of the Neyaashiinigmiing (who only died last month). The Manitous: The Spiritual World of the Ojibway, and Ojibway Ceremonies are good introductions.


Great tip. Thanks!

myeka

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Re: Appropriation or ancestry?
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2015, 03:37:56 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;181562
First of all: "should"ing all over yourself is rarely food for you.


 
At the point at which you are willing and able to commit to entering into a  responsible and respectful relationship with the people who would be teaching you about those practices.  Remember that tribal practices in their original form are very much rooted in a community, and that if you want to become a part of that community you will have to have the community's consent and agreement.

My basic feeling, in addition to that, is that if you are at "I saw some stuff in books and I want to do it" that's basically between you and the Powers; the moment you say "I am practicing something related to X tribe", however, you need to have an honest and respectful engagement with X tribe.

 
This is a really good point. Thank you.

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