Magic in North America



A lot of people have been less than pleased with Rowling’s Magic in North America, many of them Indigenous people, as the stereotyping was much as feared, with all Indians dumped into the popular “Native American” category. It’s beyond frustrating when people start a sentence with “Native Americans”, because there’s no such pool of people. There are indigenous peoples, there are tribes, there are nations, all different from one another, with different histories, beliefs, and traditions. Magic in North America has been the focus of much ferocious discussion for some time now, along with plenty of the casual racism one might expect to see. Dr. Adrienne Keene has addressed many of the issues indigenous people have at Native Appropriations.

From “Magic in North America”: The Harry Potter franchise veers too close to home at Native Appropriations:

It actually makes me kind of want to cry. Harry Potter was such a formative series for me, and holds such a deep place in my heart–and to see and hear this feels like such a slap in the face to me and other Native Potter nerds. It’s exactly what I worried would happen in my original letter to Jo.[…]I don’t really know what to say beyond my original letter, but I’ll reiterate it again. Native spirituality and religions are not fantasy on the same level as wizards. These beliefs are alive, practiced, and protected. The fact that the trailer even mentions the Navajo concept of skinwalkers sends red flags all over the place, and that it’s mentioned next to the Salem witch trials? Disaster. Even the visual imagery of the only humans shown in the trailer being a Native man and burning girls places the two too close for comfort.

We fight so hard every single day as Native peoples to be seen as contemporary, real, full, and complete human beings and to push away from the stereotypes that restrict us in stock categories of mystical-connected-to-nature-shamans or violent-savage-warriors. Colonization erases our humanity, tells us that we are less than, that our beliefs and religions are “uncivilized”, that our existence is incongruent with modernity. This is not ancient history, this is not “the past.” The ongoing oppression of Native peoples is reinscribed everyday through texts and images like this trailer. How in the world could a young person watch this and not make a logical leap that Native peoples belong in the same fictional world as Harry Potter?

The full article is at the link. Next up, Magic in North America Part 1: Ugh.

There are a number of things that stand out and deeply concern me, but the response to my critiques on my twitter timeline is even worse. I’ll talk about that after I walk you through the text. Because, like with everything I critique, it’s not just the mascot/image/text/movie/fashion itself, it’s the response, how it’s used, and the impact. This has the perfect storm of all of those categories. I really could write a dissertation about this, but I have a million papers to grade and work to do, so a quick rundown:

Click over for the full article.

Leave a Reply