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Jun 08 2013

Reddit Response – Cultural Imperialism

Some questions for all the supporters.

This is a private Christian school, why is a teenager’s wishes being held higher than the rules that the school set forth?

Why did the feather have to be ON the cap, as that was what was actually opposed to?

Explain to me how a feather that was at one time only given to warriors and Chiefs has cultural relevance at the high school graduation of a teenage girl?

By the way, good luck as a member of the tribe couldn’t do it.

The truth is, and down vote me all you want, many tribes take their customs and histories from the writings of early white settlers. I’m not saying that it’s the fault of these people that their ancestors tried to reclaim a heritage that was forced away from them. But I am saying that it might be time to stop giving special treatment to anyone who yells “heritage” any time they’re told that they can’t do something. Because the truth of the matter is that there is no cultural reason for a teenager to have a bald eagle feather. And to all the people who say that the rituals and customs have been “adapted” to modern time, guess what? You can’t change a custom and then claim that you do it because it’s your culture. It’s just some shit that you made up and are asking everyone to accept.

Before you down vote me as I know you will, do me a favor. Actually answer those questions I asked.

- Springheeljac

Because Christianity has a long history of a combination of cultural appropriation, denigration and outright destruction of native american ways. That a symbol of native american solidarity no matter it’s source is still considered an act of understanding one’s identity, history and heritage. The History of Christianity outside of Europe is nothing but cultural vandalism. This takes place to this very day in places like India and Africa where many missionaries operate under the guise of charity with the sole purpose of inserting Jesus while denigrating the culture of others. For fuck’s sake man! Look at the front page of r/atheism! We got articles about how yoga is fucking satanic! How do you think Hindus feel to have one of the things they are most proud of… their cultural icon… one of the two things Hindus are taught as their achievements that the world now follows (decimalised mathematics being the other one since Hindus had a modern number system rather than a roman style one).

To deny this girl that simple basic right is an act of imperialism. When the Australians abducted aboriginal children to “civilise” they tried preventing them from indulging in their own culture. When the British took Indians from India to work in other parts of the world they denigrated and prevented these people from showing off their culture. Yes you may say that she went to a private school so should follow all their rules but the fact is that traditionally native american kids have used a feather in that very school.

It doesn’t matter if the “Feather” is a made up ritual or not. I mean all rituals are “Made Up”, but they have meaning. Whether it’s the native american’s feathers of my culture’s usage of iron jewellery… It’s just that thousands if not millions of people believe it has a symbolic meaning. Of achievement. It’s a mark of pride in a culture that isn’t white and mainstream. It doesn’t harm anyone else. If I remember correctly a feather is a mark of achievement in Native American society.

Cultures change over time. At one point “Defeating Your Enemies” was important. Today the future of Native Americans is not in warfare but in the achievements of it’s individuals in society and that means getting educated and getting a job and other things that have become more important than your ability to fight. And I believe the feather was for courage rather than defeating enemies. I am not sure…

And that’s the thing. I am not sure what it means. Because it’s not my culture. But it is hers. And that meant something to her. It meant something to a group of people who in American history had it “fucking rough”. Of people who were treated as savages and who were tormented and massacred. Who’s very culture was stolen and made into fashion items. The feather meant something to her. It’s just a feather to you. The Medal of Honor or the Victoria Cross are “Just Metal Badges” but to our cultures they mean something.

So the old rewards have a new audience and a new way of earning them. Big Whoop.

Yes. You can change a custom. Who says you cannot? I mean come on… we are atheists. We KNOW of customs changed in religions over time. Slavery? Human Sacrifice? Ritual Cannibalism? Customs change all the time and become new ones.

Traditions change ALL the time.

Why should we as minorities dance to the tune of “the norm”. Why should we kowtow to your culture and adopt it? Why should we trade in what we are for what you are? Your culture is no superior to mine. Why should you be allowed to indulge in your heritage in a public way while I am not allowed to indulge in mine? I am just as westernised as you are and my ways do not harm anyone to dress like my ancestors and do the things that they do. For the majority of our time as a minority we have to behave like the cultural majority so what’s wrong in showing off your own heritage in some little way.

It’s a literal feather in a literal cap. Who does it hurt? The school? How? The white people? She has to dress like them 24/7. She cannot wear the clothes of her culture or speak the language of her culture. A feather in the graduation cap is somehow going to tarnish the whole affair? Really? Why should she wear a mortarboard?

At this point and time more white people wear feathers in their hair as fashion items than native americans wear one out of accomplishment. For one to be told NOT to wear one and indeed be punished is unacceptable in this day and age and of all nations in the USA.

And I know the Cree aren’t “really” the same Cree that used to live there and that practically anyone with ancestory can lay claim to the tribe. But here is the thing. Native American culture is dying out. It’s being slowly strangled and a big part of that was Christianity and society denigrating anything “Native” as “savage”. To survive they let “anyone” be part of the tribe. They want their ways to survive.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    Psychopomp Gecko

    Reddit. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

    I don’t see why he’s so worried about downvotes. It’s just a downvote. Just a madeup thing on one website on the internet. The significance of down and up votes is just some shit they made up and are asking everyone to accept. I am saying that it might be time to stop giving special treatment to anyone who yells “special treatment” any time they’re told that they can’t persecute someone. Because the truth of the matter is that there is no cultural reason for a teenager like Springheeljac to have a say in anything important.

  2. 2
    Pierce R. Butler

    Not that I give a flying Frenchie about reddit, but the US ban on humans owning eagle feathers was written to protect eagles (conspicuously missing from your “who does it hurt?” list)

    Though the US Fish & Wildlife Service removed bald eagles from the Endangered Species list 6 years ago, they remain protected by two federal laws and four international agreements, and might well face renewed slaughter without such protections.

  3. 3
    The Mellow Monkey

    Good response, but I have to point out: Anyone with some ancestry can claim a tribal affiliation, but that doesn’t mean the tribe in question accepts them. Each nation has their own standards for who can be tribally enrolled. Some have actually become much stricter in recent years. Most commonly, proof of recent ancestry is required, such as having a grandparent who was enrolled or having a certain blood quantum. I don’t see how that makes the Cree of today not “‘really’ the same Cree that used to live” here. They are the descendents of their ancestors and have as much of a claim to their continuing cultural identity as anyone else. Don’t confuse actual tribal members with settlers who want to play Native and make up stories.

    And these cultures are not dying. They are just changing with time, same as anyone else’s. Damage has been done by cultural genocide and some traditions have been lost, but a culture is far more than individual traditions. The myth of the “disappearing Indian” is incredibly harmful, because it promotes a fantasy view of Natives. People think that if you’re not living in teepees and hunting buffalo, you are not “real” and if you haven’t remained frozen as part of history, then you no longer exist.

  4. 4
    smhll

    Blurgh. I really hated how since she’s a teenage girl and not a warrior or a chief she’s not entitled to a feather. Not sure who died and made some redditor the Official Feather Enforcement Committee.

  5. 5
    Francisco Bacopa

    Whatever! This is harmless. if she wants a feather, let her wear one. I understand that feathers were given for various rites of passage. If her family thinks she should have one, she should have one.

    Maybe this all ties in with Cindy Jacobs’ latest fundie rant that the US is cursed because evil spirits haunt the land because of Native American paganism. She came to Houston and said we were cursed by the Karankawa, who have been extinct for 150 years. Seriously, there are fundies who are into this “generational curse” thing who go around saying that our land is cursed by long dead Native American paganism. If they do it here where there is pretty much zero native American culture, I reckon they preach it even more where this culture lives on.

  6. 6
    Tree

    Christianity was founded on cultural appropriation; it’s not unique to New World colonization. A lot of the ‘Jewish’ details were tacked on later and don’t reflect actual practice in the First Century CE. The salvation theology has more in common with Central Asian mystery cults centered on dying and re-birthing vegetative gods than Jewish messianic prophecy. I hope that you can see without years of study that it’s not uncommon for the dominant culture to appropriate the trappings of once-feared foes (after they had been safely unarmed). The Romans appropriated trappings such as trousers, blond wigs and women lying in ponds distributing swords (which, as we know, is no basis for a system of government) from tribes such as the Goths, Alani, Bavarii and Sarmatians. A more recent example of cultural appropriation in the service of religion would be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who claim that aboriginal Americans are really The Lost Tribes of Israel (look, two cultures appropriated with one stone, but at least they don’t claim that coconuts were carried to the new world by swallows).

    My point (pretty sure I have one) is that all human culture is entirely made up (yup, same point as FB@5). Making meaning is one of those things that humans do very well. There is no culture that transmits an unbroken tradition going back to the first humans. Cultures evolve over time. “We cannot light the fire, we cannot speak the prayers, we do not know the place, but we can tell the story of how it was done.” “And, “the story teller adds, “The story which [Rabbi Israel of Rishin] told had the same effect as the actions of the other three [rabbis].”

    It doesn’t matter if it’s a violation of Tradition for a young female to stick a feather in her cap. It sounds as if what she really wanted to do was honor her ancestors during a modern rite of passage. I suspect that if the adults had appreciated the intent of her actions, another way to achieve the same effect could have been negotiated.

  7. 7
    posizionamento siti roma

    Ho dovuto aggiornare la pagina tre volte per riuscire a leggere l’articolo. Però è valso la pena aspettare, ho trovato le informazioni che cercavo.

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