5/30/2005

Cultural Appropriation?

I have been stewing about something for a while and I'm hoping that by writing out loud about it I may be able tome up with a solution. As I have hinted at in past postings I'm a non-native person who tries to walk what is know as a "red road", live in a spirit oriented, earth centric, native influenced way. I have received approval and acceptance from various individuals within the community of natives that reside in the area I live and around for my actions. But as a person of European extract(Polish, Romanian, Scottish, Portuguese) I am sensitive to accusations of cultural appropriation. This is especially relevant to me because I'm a writer and a lot of themes that I write about are inspired by my beliefs, beliefs that have been formed by the spiritual path that I follow. Accompanying this path are various rituals and figures of import who are central to the native belief system. The stories that and figures out of native teachings have enabled me to grow as a person and an inhabitat of this planet. Where things start to become problematic are the times I want to incorporate figures from these stories into my own work. In a previous posting I published a poem which featured Coyote. He has a variety of roles through out the nations of North America. For some he is a creator, others a prankster whose contrary nature teaches lessons in behaviour. Modern native writers like Thomas King feature him predominately in their work. He's not some dried out dusty idea in a book, for many people he is real and alive. The last thing I want to do is insult the very belief system that has freed me to become a better person. But Coyote is important to me. He's the best weapon we have against the stupidity of the world that is imposed on us on a daily basis. I only have to sit through some bullshit new age ritual to see his snout breaking into a wide grin. Listening to the justifications for the invasion of Iraq I could hear his snicker as the laugh track for the world. Maybe I worry too much, or even think too much of myself for who's going to read my books anyway, let alone publish them, but at the same time for me what has always mattered is intent. Coyote showed up on the side of the road in the novel I'm working on and is worming his way into the story. He waited until chapter 13 until he made his appearance but he looks like he's there to stay. I don't seem to have any control over his actions, he does have a life of his own you know, so I can't say for sure what he's going to do or who he is going to piss off but I'm hoping it will be all the right people. I don't care if liberals and p.c.'s are upset, but I care about stealing someone else's stories, someone's else's history, to use for my purposes. I worry about looking like another fucking wannabe white guy ripping off the Indians, and not just form their perspective but my own. Is this genuine belief or I am doing it because it's neat and different. I really hope not to the latter but I guess those are my equivalent of a Christian's doubts. If your wondering why I just can't be happy with my own so called cultural traditions, well I've got a problem with the whole Judeo-Christian outlook on the world. Starting from Genisis with the being given dominion over everything instead of being part of everything on down to original sin the whole thing gives me the willies. I live in North America not Europe so it makes no sense to me to try and adopt the old ways of Europe(Druids, Wickan etc.)which were also earth based, because so much of their tradition is centred around life in England, Ireland, and Scotland, or even the continent. It's like I said before I don't really care what my fellow European descendants think, most of them are the ones responsible for driving me to this path anyway. I just hope that I can prove through the sincerity of my depiction that I am incorporating Coyote out of devotion not greed. Of course these are the type of thoughts that contribute to writer's block and keep you searching for distractions so you don't have to write what's really important. Instead you spend your time whining about shit on your blog. Oh well, hopefully I got it out of my system and can get back to writing now. If you want to read this thing that I'm talking about, the first seven chapters are for sale individually at my storefront, see link in sidebar. It's call The trees were singing, first line naming by microsoft, I'll probably rename it when it's done, if that ever happens. That's enough now. I'm shutting up. Don't worry I'll get back to my usual style of ranting soon. cheers gypsyman

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