A still from the Alive video by Chase & Status.

Adrian Jawort: Should non-Natives ever write about our people?

Can speaking out against cultural appropriation go too far as to stifle creativity? Writer Adrian Jawort, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe weighs in a debate that looks like it won't ever go away:
Last Autumn I organized a panel for the 2016 Montana Book Festival addressing questions like “How does one go about writing a Native character when one isn’t Native? How should Native authors themselves respond if a reader says they’re ‘making Natives look bad?’”

What had partially spurred the idea was the backlash J.K. Rowling received from the Native American activist community for her four-part series of short online essays called the History of Magic In North America. In her imagined universe, the opening paragraph stated, “Various modes of magical travel – brooms and Apparition among them…” were how the first wizards from Europe came to North America.

I throw “brooms” out because many Rowling bashers acted as if she needed to write an actual historical textbook, all while espousing “damned if you do or don’t” catch-22 impasse complaints: “A white person, she shouldn’t write about us or our beliefs, period!” versus “She should have done more research and been more specific!”

Read More on the Story:
Adrian Jawort: Appropriation and Art As Political Pawns (Indian Country Media Network 5/26)

Related Stories
Tiffany Midge: A response to winning the cultural appropriation prize (5/22)

Join the Conversation