Magic in North America Part 1: Ugh.

In Uncategorized by Adrienne K.480 Comments

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Yesterday I wrote about the trailer for JK Rowling’s new multi-part background pieces on Pottermore, entitled “Magic in North America.” You should read the post here if you need context. Even before that, back in June, I wrote about my concerns with the bringing of the “magic universe” to the States. You can read that here.

So this morning at 9am, part one of this mess was released. It’s really short, I don’t know what I was expecting, but definitely go over and read it in full.

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:

Part 1 of MinNA, The 14th to 17th century, starts with this:

Though European explorers called it ‘the New World’ when they first reached the continent, wizards had known about America long before Muggles (Note: while every nationality has its own term for ‘Muggle,’ the American community uses the slang term No-Maj, short for ‘No Magic’). Various modes of magical travel – brooms and Apparition among them – not to mention visions and premonitions, meant that even far-flung wizarding communities were in contact with each other from the Middle Ages onwards.

So first off, we’re centering Europeans, calling brutal colonizers benign “explorers” (yes, it’s written for children, but I don’t think anyone would argue the HP canon is absent of intense violence. I’m just fascinated to see how Rowling will address the brutality and complexity of colonization in the next stage). Also, “America” didn’t exist during this timeframe.

The Native American magical community and those of Europe and Africa had known about each other long before the immigration of European No-Majs in the seventeenth century. They were already aware of the many similarities between their communities. Certain families were clearly ‘magical’, and magic also appeared unexpectedly in families where hitherto there had been no known witch or wizard. The overall ratio of wizards to non-wizards seemed consistent across populations, as did the attitudes of No-Majs, wherever they were born. In the Native American community, some witches and wizards were accepted and even lauded within their tribes, gaining reputations for healing as medicine men, or outstanding hunters. However, others were stigmatised for their beliefs, often on the basis that they were possessed by malevolent spirits.

The Native American community.” Oh man that loaded “the.” One of the largest fights in the world of representations is to recognize Native peopleand communitieand cultureare diverse, complex, and vastly different from one another. There is no such thing as one “Native American” anything. Even in a fictional wizarding world.

The legend of the Native American ‘skin walker’ – an evil witch or wizard that can transform into an animal at will – has its basis in fact. A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi, that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.

So, this is where I’m going to perform what Audra Simpson calls an “ethnographic refusal,” “a calculus ethnography of what you need to know and what I refuse to write in.” In her work with her own community, she asks herself the questions: “what am I revealing here and why? Where will this get us? Who benefits from this and why?”

I had a long phone call with one of my friends/mentors today, who is Navajo, asking her about the concepts Rowling is drawing upon here, and discussing how to best talk about this in a culturally appropriate way that can help you (the reader, and maybe Rowling) understand the depths to the harm this causes, while not crossing boundaries and taboos of culture. What did I decide? That you don’t need to know. It’s not for you to know. I am performing a refusal.

What you do need to know is that the belief of these things (beings?) has a deep and powerful place in Navajo understandings of the world. It is connected to many other concepts and many other ceremonial understandings and lifeways. It is not just a scary story, or something to tell kids to get them to behave, it’s much deeper than that. My own community also has shape-shifters, but I’m not delving into that either.

What happens when Rowling pulls this in, is we as Native people are now opened up to a barrage of questions about these beliefs and traditions (take a look at my twitter mentions if you don’t believe me)–but these are not things that need or should be discussed by outsiders. At all. I’m sorry if that seems “unfair,” but that’s how our cultures survive.

The other piece here is that Rowling is completely re-writing these traditions. Traditions that come from a particular context, place, understanding, and truth. These things are not “misunderstood wizards”. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Here is how Rowling responded to questions online about the term:

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and here was my response:

I have more to say, but I’ll end with this. These are things you don’t mess with. So good luck with that.

The Native American wizarding community was particularly gifted in animal and plant magic, its potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe. The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.

The magic wand originated in Europe. Wands channel magic so as to make its effects both more precise and more powerful, although it is generally held to be a mark of the very greatest witches and wizards that they have also been able to produce wandless magic of a very high quality. As the Native American Animagi and potion-makers demonstrated, wandless magic can attain great complexity, but Charms and Transfiguration are very difficult without one.

This whole wandless magic thing is bugging me. So Rowling has said multiple times that it takes a lot more skill to perform magic without a wand (Dumbledore does it at several points in the books), but points out that wands are what basically refines magic. Wands are a European invention, so basically she’s demonstrating Eurocentric superiority here–the introduction of European “technology” helps bring the Native wizards to a new level. AKA colonial narrative 101.

The response online today has been awful. My twitter mentions have been exploding non-stop all day, with the typical accusations of my oversensitivity and asking if I understand that Harry Potter is fictional, and more directed hate telling me my doctorate is being misused and I’m an idiot. In addition are the crew who “would love to know the real history” of these concepts (again, not for you to know), or are so grateful that JK Rowling is introducing them to these ideas for the first time. This is not the way to learn about or be introduced to contemporary and living Native cultures. Not at all.

Also worthy of note is that Rowling is known for responding directly to fan questions on twitter, and overall being accessible to her fan base. Despite thousands of tweets directed at her about these concerns, she has not addressed it at all. The silence is noted, and it’s deafening.

So this is the first day of the writings, I truly shudder thinking about the glossy way that first contact and subsequent genocide is going to be addressed.

Until tomorrow?


Read my original post here: “Dear JK Rowling, I’m concerned about the American Wizarding School”

and the one from yesterday: “Magic in North America”: The Harry Potter franchise veers too close to home

and the writing I’m responding to: Pottermore “Fourteenth- Seventeenth Century” 


  • alientraveller

    So many issues with what Rowling wrote, like the demolishing of the diversity of Native American cultures, and the depiction of real-life Medicine Men as frauds in her universe. Worst still is the way she rewrites those cultures to fit her narrative of intolerant Muggles persecuting Wizards, a European sensibility that more tolerant North American cultures get piegonholed into. Now Rowling does like to play on tropes, like the depiction of the Loch Ness Monster as a shapeshifting otter in the original Fantastic Beasts book, but given people know so little about Native American mythologies it’s not right, it’s a distortion. The worst thing is Rowling probably came not from a place of malice, but by just not thinking. Hopefully this has no bearing on the new film but it does stink that it’s canon.

    • Adrienne_K

      Perfectly said! Thank you.

    • doubledipper99

      I hope she includes Smallpox in the story.

    • disqus_zlucDgSWr0

      “Real-life medicine Men”… That’s an oxymoron.

      • I’m British.

        • disqus_zlucDgSWr0

          Doesn’t change it from being an American-centric opinion… Nor does it change the fact that you were wrong about first nations education. When you said “people know so little about Native American mythologies” you should have said “I know so little about Native American mythologies”… You made a generalization about all people from a purely British point of view… Can you not see the irony?

          • Alright then. It is damaging that British children or older readers who are have little interest in indigenous peoples would see this and continue to assume all Native Americans/First Nations belong to one homogenous culture. Satisfactory?

            • disqus_zlucDgSWr0

              Are you suggesting we censor works of fiction to protect the people of Britian from coming to uneducated conclusions about reality? People who operate under false pretenses are always at a disadvantage both economically and socially… Why fuss over the people who make the least amount of contribution to society and progress as a whole?
              Cross-walks require lines to ensure that the majority of people are safe when crossing, not 10ft high concrete walls.

      • Riku Buholzer

        I have to disagree with one thing though: there are medicine men and women who’s work I don’t question.

        • disqus_zlucDgSWr0

          Question everything.

          • Riku Buholzer

            A good point, but here’s why I don’t: my mom took me to a healer woman up in lilooet because I wasn’t dealing with my OCD and seemed unhappy. When the lady saw me, she immediately noticed something wrong and proceeded to “pull” something from my head with some difficulty, but then after said “I saw a black canoe heading towards the forest, but now you can live a normal life”. She knew I was suicidal and wanted to off myself in a forest to be dramatic or something, and I hasn’t ever mentioned anything to anyone about that. It was very specific. I was doubly worried she could read my mind or something then because the day before I had also furiously masterbated and I wondered how far she could see. But that’s just my story, I’ve never seen a vision and I think making plant herbal remedies are silly sometimes, don’t like a lot of traditional process but some people I can’t explain for otherwise.

            • disqus_zlucDgSWr0

              These sort of incidents usually come down to coincidence and perhaps a practiced ability to vaguely read body language / mannerisms to give the illusion of mind reading. Have you heard of James Randi? There has yet to be a “healer” to approach him for his $1Million prize that hasn’t been debunked and he’s been offering the prize since the 70’s. I’m not saying that the placebo effect isn’t strong in it’s own right, but to label it anything other than placebo is untruthful and potentially harmful.

              • Riku Buholzer

                It’s hard to say, because when you’re in that community, there almost isn’t a single atheistic Native person because of the assumed power of ancestors and the creator, meaning it wouldn’t even be her, but she’d be a medium. I haven’t heard of James Randi. Looked him up, and can respect the approach he takes because not questioning is a problem. I also know that my story is just a story so it won’t do anything for you, just me. But I am still sure I told no one about the forest, yet she was clear about it… that was the only one time I didn’t feel like a ceremony was just going through the motions.

    • rubi-kun

      At the same time, if you had wizards being widely accepted in Potter-verse North America, would that be potentially worse in falling into “Native Americans as magic fantasy people” stereotypes? Making a dividing line between the mystical beliefs of Muggles and the fantasy magic of Harry Potter wizards would seem like a positive option then, and be less distortive by creating a fine line between what real people believe and what’s fantasy (she’s very clear that Potterverse wizards are not Wiccans, so it would make sense that Native American Potterverse wizards would be distinct from Muggle Native American mystical beliefs as well).

      Totally on board with the complaints about lacking cultural specificity (I only hope that it’s the result of being a one page puff piece and that if Fantastic Beasts deals with Native American magic it’s a lot more culturally specific).

  • Stephen Jack

    I’m really not surprised by this.
    The original series was loaded with colonialist commentary.
    Séamus Finnigan’s obsession with explosives and the comment of “must be the Irish celebrating” when explosions were heard in Goblet of Fire were clearly the old “All Irish people are terrorists” joke that had pervaded from the time of the Troubles right up to the early 90s.

    It makes perfect sense that she’d do the same thing with First Nations people (except worse, because First Nations are still subjugated and oppressed, unlike the Irish). The warning signs were there from the very first book, she loves using the imagery and stereotypes generated by English Imperialism.

    • Matty Fresh

      Also Cho Chang: The girl with two last names.

      • Alea iacta est.

        I’m still side-eying “Mahoutokoro” for the name of the Japanese school of magic. Not only is it the most boring name ever – literally “magic place” – it doesn’t even follow Japanese pronunciation rules for when “tokoro” is appended to the end of nouns and turns into “-dokoro.” If she couldn’t even get something that basic down with her research of non-European places for a name, I have little faith in her abilities for more complex subjects.

        • Henriette Roggeman

          All school names are simple. As exemple, the brazilian school, Castelobruxo, is literally translated to “Wizzardcastle”, Not even a space between the words. But does it -really- matter?

          • Alea iacta est.

            …did you miss the part where I also pointed out the Japanese name was wrong? And let’s not get starred on the horrid “pronunciation” they gave on the Pottermore site, which shows that did not even ask a single person who speaks Japanese how to say the name.

            I showed the name to one of my Japanese students, a huge Harry Potter fan, when it came out, and “let down” does not even begin to describe his reaction to the name. I believe his exact response was, “Dasai,” which roughly translates to “bleh.” And he instinctively changed the “-tokoro” to “-dokoro,” because it’s a basic rule of Japanese.

            And why does this matter? Simple. Because, as I said before, if she can’t be bothered to do the research on something THAT BASIC, like how to even actually say the name she’s choosing – how can you can any faith she’ll do the research on the more important and sensitive things about other cultures?

            • You should probably write a strongly worded e-mail to her editor, because this is of the utmost importance.

              • Alea iacta est.

                Continue missing my point, then.

            • Riku Buholzer

              That’s not something I’d consider to be a basic grammatical concept in Japanese, coming from someone who knows it.

              • Alea iacta est.


                I’ve lived in Japan for 14 years and worked as a translator, (plus taught translation classes) but hey, what do I know of the language, huh. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

                • Riku Buholzer


                  No matter how many times I write it, some person at Discus or maybe even the owner of the blog themselves are constantly deleting my comment to you as spam, but in regards to the point about tokoro becoming dokoro, that’s her own work and I feel she should be free to do as she pleases.

                  Besides, that’s still not a very basic part about the language.

                  • A. Noyd

                    Rendaku” (連濁) is a pretty basic concept, actually. It’s hard not to notice or get a feel for it if you go beyond very elementary Japanese as a foreign learner and it’s certainly something Japanese people have a handle on. What’s not basic is knowing how to spell out the logic and rules behind it, but you don’t need that to notice tokoro (ところ) should be どころ in this case.

                    Rowling is, of course, free to do as she pleases. Just as anyone is free to criticize and ridicule her for her ridiculous, lazy, and offensive choices.

                    Plenty of Japanese people picked up on Rowling’s rendaku fail and took apart the school name in all sorts of ways while suggesting more compelling alternatives. Too bad Rowling didn’t consult them ahead of time.

                    • A. Noyd

                      Here are just a few examples of criticism by Japanese people. (Posted separately in case of auto-filtering.)

                    • Riku Buholzer

                      Thanks for the link. It’s interesting to see their points that the word magic is coming from a western point of view and all, but I still have to forgive her if I am to forgive all of the Engrish that comes out of Japan and popular anime shows like “Magi”which are done by Japanese depicting characters like Alibaba and Alladin fighting wizard duels at a magic school and so on or I’d be a hypocrite who allows one group to get away with artistic license but not another.

                    • A. Noyd

                      but I still have to forgive her if I am to forgive all of the Engrish that comes out of Japan

                      No you don’t. From reading your comments, it seems you have a very superficial understanding of equality underpinned by a naive belief that the world is generally fair to begin with. It’s not. There’s a whole historical and social context behind these things that are not in any way equal.

                      “Engrish,” for example, is a phenomenon where native English speakers belittle Japanese people’s imperfect attempts to find a place for English in Japanese society, which they only do so because of linguistic imperialism and pressures of globalization. In places where English is pushed on everyone, regardless of their preferences, of course there’s going to be a good deal of indifference toward living up perfectly to outside standards. (And “Engrish” isn’t for you to “forgive.” That’s just gross and entitled.)

                      It’s not at all analogous to a woman from a colonialist nation who has all the resources she could possibly wish for choosing to situate her creation in unfamiliar cultures and then being lazy and dismissive in how she goes about doing so.

                      popular anime shows like “Magi”which are done by Japanese depicting characters like Alibaba and Alladin fighting wizard duels at a magic school and so on or I’d be a hypocrite who allows one group to get away with artistic license but not another.

                      Why not be critical of appropriation like that, though? Or at least listen to others’ criticisms? You can still enjoy something while being critical of it. Artistic license is not sacred. You can hold people accountable for harm while enjoying other things they do.

                      And you’re not a hypocrite if you moderate your criticism to be more stringent against creators with greater social standing and to the degree that their actions do harm. That’s far less hypocritical than ignoring existing differences in inequality in order to pretend you’re being fair when you portion out your “forgiveness” in equal measure to all.

                    • Riku Buholzer

                      No, pointing out the word “forgive” to say that I hold some sort of sense of entitlement because “forgive” has implications that I am in a position of power is reading a bit far too much into a word I could have as easily interchanged with “ignore”, “not care about” or say “treat in the same way as” to the same effect. Engrish is just improper English that is close to hitting home; the purpose or reason behind the person creating the word nonewithstanding. It in no way implying or hinting at a supposed deeply held belief in an equal world brought on by Native beliefs when I say that a spelling or naming mistake by JK Rowling, and a spelling or naming mistake made by a non-English could both be improved by consulting the other but it’s their choice to do so. In fact, I don’t believe the world is fair, or that everyone has the same amount of power, or anything else you’re picking up from individual words like that.

                      What the native symbol of four equal sides representing races is saying, to me, is that unless we do try to uphold everyone equally before the law but instead allow for someone to get away with one thing while punishing another because of their power, then as soon as you’ve said that, the power dynamic has changed and one will replace the other. A bit dramatic of a picture but it’s supposed to be there to help check us before we become the oppressors. Sure, she is influential. Its also fiction, which is telling you from the outset not to take it as reality. Artistic license I know can be abused of course, but freedom of expression without legal action is the only thing that may stop arbitrary offense claims.

                      So to clarify, I would have to yes, be equal in my treatment of JK. Rowlings use of native characters and any anime like Magi for doing the same thing because it would actually be racial discrimination.

                      Why I’m not critical of Magi: if no one but those who belong to one culture are allowed to depict other cultures and we actually hold up to that, we no longer live in any resemblance of a free society where even calling a title “fiction” can save you from litigation. The safe answer is to not represent anyone but your own kind. The word “harm” (you picked on one word so so will I) is subjective, what qualifies as hard can change rapidly, and the word ignores the good such a work like “Magi” may actually do in instilling interest to those who would otherwise not care. Once again, I don’t like Korean drama, I find them boring. I need something more universally appealing before I will watch an episode to help me learn the language, which is my goal. Having something like “Adventure Time” have a Korean talking dragon sparked some curiosity and now I’m able to have conversation in Korean.

                      When I say I don’t care if they are mistakenly represented as long as it leads to interest, that’s what I mean. Ultimately, I’d like for Natives to have more social standing by getting known, and to not be on the margins of society because I know they aren’t on the same standing. If that makes it clearer.

                    • A. Noyd

                      Please keep in mind when you’re reading my reply that we’re talking about moral and ethical choices, not legal ones. You keep drifting into some sort of legalistic framework you’ve imagined applies here when it doesn’t.

                      pointing out the word “forgive” […] is reading a bit far too much into a word I could have as easily interchanged with “ignore” […]

                      I know full well you’re talking about tolerance when you say “forgiveness.” But it’s rather entitled of you to talk about tolerating English errors as if they’re equivalent to cultural appropriation. You shouldn’t need to make an effort to overlook clumsiness in English to begin with. And the linguistic flub Rowling made in the case of “Mahoutokoro” itself is not what critics have a problem with but why and how the flub got made.

                      Engrish is just improper English that is close to hitting home.

                      It very much isn’t. Fluency failures are just fluency failures and are bound to happen when an entire country is expected to learn a foreign language. But for some reason, Japanese people (and Asians in general) get a lot of extra attention for messing up. “Engrish” is not some neutral label for errors but a way to designate Japanese people’s errors—or even stylistic choices—as particularly deserving of ridicule or scorn. Now, I don’t think you’re deliberately trying to adopt double standards, but that’s what happens when your analysis of equality is so superficial.

                      [If you] allow for someone to get away with one thing while punishing another because of their power, then as soon as you’ve said that, the power dynamic has changed and one will replace the other.

                      Your understanding of what it takes to become an oppressor is simplistic and only works if you think things are generally fair. I don’t mean you think everyone is treated equally or has the same amount of power right now, but you seem to believe it’s very easy for things to go “both ways”—that Group A doing X thing will achieve the same results as Group B doing X thing.

                      The reality is that power isn’t maintained only by deliberate, ongoing actions. It’s built into the system itself. Group A has set things up over centuries so they will benefit greatly from doing X, but Group B either won’t benefit much or is even punished when they try.

                      For instance, look at how you talk of upholding “everyone equally before the law.” You don’t take into account who makes and enforces “the law” in the first place. Your ready acceptance of the status quo (and the fact that there are a great many people who do the same) is an example of how power gets entrenched in favor of one group.

                      Before you set yourself up as one who checks against reversals in power gradients, you have to understand how power gradients work. And you clearly don’t. (I’m picking that up from all of your words, not individual ones, by the way.) So you end up guarding against a danger that doesn’t exist at the expense of actual justice. (Social justice, not legal justice.)

                      I’m no expert myself, but I’m open to what people who have less power than me say about how they’re affected by the status quo and what happens when they try to change things.

                      Its also fiction, which is telling you from the outset not to take it as reality.

                      That’s incredibly dishonest. Rowling’s critics are very clearly talking about the effect of fiction in the real world. Stories also have to intersect with the real world or they lose their meaning. They matter because some parts of them are real. And whose stories get told by whom, to whom, and for what gain also matters, and that does not take place in the realm of fiction.

                      arbitrary offense claims

                      What are “arbitrary offense claims”? And why do you think you’re qualified to judge their arbitrariness?

                      if no one but those who belong to one culture are allowed to depict other cultures

                      Let me just stop you there. That’s a strawman. That’s not what people are asking for. No, really. If you want to take issue with what people are actually saying, I’ll listen, but I’m not going to humor an argument made on completely false premises.

                      Anyway, the main points I’m trying to get across are that context matters, and you shouldn’t treat anything “in the same way as” anything else unless they’re actually equivalent. If you want to respond, please try to keep things in that vein.

                    • Riku Buholzer

                      Morally and ethically speaking about using another persons language or culture I could almost agree that Jk Rowlings depiction of a magic school or the use of natives is wrong, but I don’t. And once again Engrish by which, using English on shirts and things to sell for a profit is on the same level. I’m not blind to power structures or how people favour their own kind or how history plays a part, but if you mean to say that the power or status quo can’t change I’m afraid we’ll have to disagree there, as I come from a very Chinese area and Chinese-only hiring practices are quite normal. I’ve even the power balance shift when the mall “Aberdeen” was opened up by Asians (chinese mostly) for Asians and they attempted to evict white patrons for “causing trouble” at first. I could go on about that, the point being that despite the obvious favouritism the perception is that Asians there are a minority and don’t have power structures while they actually do. So I’m keenly aware of power imbalance actually, but what about when I get an email asking me if I’m “Japanese or just someone who speaks Japanese as a second language?” When applying to a role in a Canadian equal opportunity company while possessing past work experience in Japanese speaking roles? Does my power make that not morally and ethically wrong? To me it’s still discrimination based on race not to mention illegal to ask the ethnicity.

                      As for being dishonest, no, it’s fiction and I don’t intend to make double standards and I’ll live by what I say even if it applies to myself: My tribe in the Ganges or what’s left of it – I don’t see anything wrong with a depiction of it even by non members for profit as long as it’s labelled as fiction. To not be clear about the fiction would be morally wrong and I also know what you mean about not controlling the discourse, but if it’s fiction I don’t care and I might even enjoy reading about it.

                      You can’t offend me even with “shadow hearts 3″‘s blonde native lead role and similar power imbalance. Rather I was embarrassed for the people who got it wrong and wanted to help them get it right but I would’ve felt it immoral to say only we are allowed and not you. Instead of worrying about the meanings getting changed, I was happy to play as a native as I felt, now maybe we’ll become more relevant even.

                      You’re right that some people will be misled, some meanings change for some people, but as long as natives aren’t willing to actually be helpful about telling the real meanings are, that is already the case.

                    • A. Noyd

                      And once again Engrish by which, using English on shirts and things to sell for a profit is on the same level. I’m not blind to power structures […]

                      Oh, FFS, the irony. I can’t take it anymore. You’re completely oblivious to how English imperialism and assimilation works. Or maybe you’re not, but then you’re willfully choosing to ignore its applicability as it suits you. Either way, your failure to account for context like this is exactly the goddamn problem I’m trying to bring to your attention.

                      And I’m not really interested in humoring most of the rest of your word salad till you can at least show some understanding of that. Like, don’t just hand-wave away the context when I’m trying to get you to acknowledge context matters.

                      As for being dishonest, no, it’s fiction

                      Your dishonesty is how you portray critics’ problem as some kind of failure to tell fiction from reality when that’s not at all relevant to what they’re saying.

                      but as long as natives aren’t willing to actually be helpful about telling the real meanings are

                      And you can just piss off with this victim blaming. If someone takes something without permission and incorrectly tells others what it means, it’s not the fault of the victim if they don’t care to set the record straight. People, even cultures, are allowed to have private things.

                    • Riku Buholzer

                      You’ve tried the approach of telling me how English imperialism and assimilation works two times now and although I’m hearing what you’re saying, its not going to work in to the effect that you want and it seems you aren’t looking to attempt to answer my points at this time even. If this is the third attempt to do the same thing, I think you will either have to change the way that you want to go about it or we can just agree to disagree on several points. I don’t have any need to convince you but I at least can clarify my own views for everyone else to look at and compare. In the meantime, I’ll just wait for the new anime series “Sinbad” to come out and see how accurate that is.

                    • Brockland A.T.

                      Mistaken stereotypes are what marginalized Aboriginals and keep them there, despite the abundance of accurate knowledge that in theory should lead them out of the corner. Its not clear that accurate contextual depictions of skinwalkers really help aboriginals at all since the other material didn’t.

                      As you’ve probably noticed, real Asians are not the stereotype wise sage warriors of pop culture. They are, quite ordinary and may even have very annoying behaviors along with the occasional endearing quirks common to all human beings.

                      Why was it OK for Koreans to be human and more or less survive the stereotype? Why don’t they drop the martial arts when some white guy makes Bruce Lee catcalls at them?

                      Well, having a critical mass of loyal participants in their culture helps a lot in sustaining a sovereign narrative, plus the ability to shut out greifer outsiders as needed. As a gamer, you’re probably aware of the killjoy greifer phenomenon. Its a compulsion that colours whiteness culture through and through.

                      Aboriginals don’t have as living bodies, critical mass participation and are lucky to still be alive. The culture they can’t look after themselves, is cared for as archival knowledge by dedicated scholars, many of them white as well as of other races, to whom scientific integrity is life.

                      By comparison, a critical mass of delusional make believe Aboriginals who know more about selected clinical details of Aboriginal culture than actual Aboriginals, just for the game session, don’t stand out as keeper of the flame material.

                      Much Aboriginal knowledge is locked away in textbooks and anthropological reports. Accurate, maybe a little skewed by observer bias, but unused, unasked for, and unrecalled. To say information is not openly available, may not be entirely true save for a technical problem of access and a pool of honest and capable participants.

                      Aboriginals are at a significant disadvantage in culture war. Its the judgement of some with a good perspective, that its not wise to jump in save for defensive purposes and keeping pilferers such as Rowling and her ilk, out.

                      Rowling fans resorting to extorting knowledge in exchange for not faking it, have not made actions in good faith that should be rewarded.

                      Being indifferent to an affront doesn’t make it all good any more than being cheated is OK even if the loss isn’t caught out.

                    • Angel

                      Instead of making a baseless argument like you have continued to do, how about actually stating what the stereotypes are.

                    • Brockland A.T.

                      You expect every post to be a complete essay given the probability that you know exactly what I’m talking about?

                      A parallel between the Aboriginal ‘brave warrior’ stereotype versus the Asian ‘martial artist warrior’ was stated right there. Both are used to derogatory effect against an ethnic identity, but not always inflicting the same level of damage to the target. Instead, you resort to a technical power play; and demand I chase your goalposts.

                      If its more important for you to pretend innocence at the cost of looking either ignorant or a disingenuous liar, the temptation to leave you hanging is too strong to ignore.

                    • Angel

                      But why are you arguing that it is offensive when she didn’t use any stereotype in the representation of her fictional universe?

                    • Brockland A.T.

                      I think the guy in the loincloth kind of gave it away. You seem very determined.


                      Its not just the Aboriginals that were persecuted by whiteness. Any dissident white people dubious of the metaphorical ‘Ring of Sauron’ were given ‘the treatment’. Indianization was a serious crime in early America.


                      The Pagans of Europe barely survived real witch hunts and any sense of the real history of that is whitewashed by this glamorie of Potterverse maj versus no-mag.

                      The Salem Witch Trials are a very real and horrifying bit of Christian religious history also needing a whitewash, it seems. Guess the Potterverse spell worked so well on altering the real narrative of the Christian purge of Pagans and heretics they want to try on the North American narrative.

                      Rowling’s bit on the Salem Witch trials is totally inane. The MACUSA seems to have more in relation to a take on T.V. secret societies or shadow government agency tropes than history.

                      To quote a better writer, (linked above) Katherine Trendacosta of iO9 (March 11, 2016) had this very telling summary of J.K. Rowling’s NA fiction:

                      “J.K. Rowlings History of Magic in North America was a Travesty from start to finish [title]…

                      One of the many things that made Harry Potter so great was the specificity. Rowling was drawing on real places to create
                      Wizarding Britain. It was all based on things she knew backward and forwards.

                      But American history and culture are not her fields. And the beliefs of the various Native American tribes and their histories was something she was especially not qualified to speak on. If you absolutely have to include these things, speak to some people.

                      Creating a second history for an existing place that is not your own is not easy. It requires a lot of research. Research Rowling clearly didn’t do.”

                      No respect for real truth or a real sense of the truth. What’s up with British education? Oh, W8… seems they want to include wizardry in the curriculum…


                      That some obsessive Potterverse fans are eager to practice ‘real’ magic or otherwise very much spice up their live action roleplaying, is yet another reason why Aboriginal knowledge should be carefully guarded from insult.



                • Angel

                  Good for you and your point is?

            • Angel

              I would like to know why you are so angry about this?

              • Alea iacta est.

                I’m “angry,” when literally you’re the one so pressed you’re responding over the week after the fact, when I had moved on to other things. Bravo.

                • Angel

                  I just read this article yesterday and I am currently responding to some of the comments. Sorry that I didn’t comment a week ago when it was a convenient for you.

      • keef

        She doesn’t have two last names. Cho is a surname in Korea, it is a first name in China.

        The character is of Chinese ancestry so the name Cho Chang is a perfectly acceptable CHINESE name.

        Chang is a fairly common first name so if we take Cho Chang’s name to be written as is conventional in China (Family name first, given name second) it’s a perfectly normal, conventional Chinese name.

        • Matty Fresh

          Way to adhere to the letter of the law, not the spirit.

          • keef

            If she had written the name the opposite way – there would be cockwombles complaining about that too. Is there anything you won’t complain about?

            • Matty Fresh

              I know I shouldn’t feed trolls, but I’m avoiding writing an asinine paper. So to answer your question; I don’t really complain about anchovies on my pizza. I know, I know. A lot of people do, but I really like the salty-fishy taste mixed with the creamy mozzarella. Plus, since so many people REALLY don’t like the taste, I get the whole pizza to myself! Ska-doosh!!!

              So I don’t complain about that at all. But poorly written racist stereotypes masquerading as quality children’s literature infecting the minds of our future? Yeah, you caught me. I complain about that.

              With Deepest Love,

              Matty A. Cockwomble, Esq.

    • Dinah Russell

      Sidenotes: Seamus Finnigan’s obsession with explosives is an exclusively film portrayal and isn’t a defining aspect of his character in the books at all. So if that can be attributed to an “all Irish people are terrorists” joke (rather than the more obvious, “this kid’s not great at magic” joke), it’s on the film producers, not JKR.

      And when there are explosives following the World Cup and the comment that the Irish must be celebrating, it’s because their team just won the World Cup. If the Bulgarians had won, any explosions would have had the comment “must be the Bulgarians celebrating.”

      • Beeble

        JKR was heavily involved in the making of the film adaptations. She oversaw the choice to portray Finnigan this way.

        • Angel

          Do you have the proper information to back up your claim?

  • Terrie_S

    Jesus was a skilled Jewish wizard who used the Draught if Living Death to make it appear as if he died on the cross. It wore off after three days. He used transfiguration to change water to wine. And healing illness is easy when you’re skilled with charms.

    .. Hey, it’s only make-believe, right? No reason to be offended.

    • Susan White

      Terrie, the problem is WE are NOT make believe. There are around 566 “Native American” nations in the US alone. We are real people and we are still here. However, many people don’t understand that we are not all the same, if they even know we still exist. There are many many misconceptions and misperceptions about us out there. People THINK they know things about us when they don’t. Rowling is using these misperceptions and cementing them into the minds of her readers. We are already trying to correct the misinformation that is out there. These depictions of us make this more difficult. I hope she doesn’t use the words squaw and brave, but after seeing all of this, I won’t be surprised if she does. We do have every right to be offended when we are being misrepresented. This looks like extreme misrepresentation to me, especially considering how many fans Rowling has.

      • Terrie_S

        Susan, my point was people claiming “Don’t be offended, it’s only a make-believe story” would be offended by making Jesus a wizard. Because it’s not THEM being targeted, so that’s okay. (Believe me, with relatives who are Native, even if I’m not, I think my face is stuck in a permanent cringe).

        • Susan White

          Oops sorry, Terrie. I don’t always respond to things because I know my EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) brain messes stuff up. I messed up again. but I agree with you. Some of the comments I’ve seen on facebook from Native people are making me cringe too.

      • Riku Buholzer

        Then please teach us about the difference in tribes. Give us a map showing where all of the different tribes existed. Teach the history, become more than just a pan-Native identity by elaborating on it. Even one aspect of your particular culture that you want to clarify here and now is 100x better than just saying “no that’s not us”, “that’s not us either”, “you still don’t have it right”. Do the elders still have a deathgrip on what is and isn’t allowed to be said? Because this current method isn’t helpful at all if the goal is to be correctly understood.

    • Mead

      You make it sound like Rowling cares about Jesus. I’m sure she would write something like that, just to marvel at her own brilliance.

    • Allen Lyons

      You’d probably enjoy the Gospel of Thomas. It honestly reads kind of like an X-men comic, with Jesus often using his powers without thinking to strike people blind or “wither” them, whatever that means

    • Limi

      Correct. In fact, this is the exact argument brought up every time a Christian group protested The Last Temptation of Christ, or O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo, or a Muslim group protested Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

      It’s the reason you can pick up the popular God is Dead comic series and read about Jesus coming back in the present day, refusing his supposed burden, and spending his time having a bunch of sex instead. Sure some people are offended, but nobody cares, because it’s just fiction. Hell, Dan Brown wrote a book about Jesus having sacred sex with a prostitute and it sold millions and became a major motion picture.

      What would we say to a Christian who demanded their sacred texts be left alone? ‘Sorry, it’s just fiction – deal with it.’ The same response is needed here.

      • Terrie_S

        All of your examples involve pieces written by people with an understanding of Christianity and none of them claim that Jesus was a hoaxer and NOT the Son of God. Not analogous.

        • Limi

          I didn’t speak only of Christian scripture, and I’m not sure how you feel claiming someone’s prophet and the final messenger of God took dictation from Satan compares to claiming they were a fraud, but I think you’ll find Muslims consider it significantly more blasphemous. That aside, I don’t think you are familiar with any of the books in question if you believe their blasphemy somehow doesn’t ‘match up’ to claims of fraud – The Gospel According To Jesus Christ positions Jesus as a saviour of mankind *from* the evil that is his father – and Dan Brown’s book, the one which received the *least* controversy, does indeed claim Jesus is not the son of God.

          Putting that aside, your comment made me think, I was sure I had seen Jesus called a fraud somewhere before. A simple google search didn’t really help – instead of finding a single instance of a comment being made about jesus being a fraud, I was inundated with YouTube clips of stand up comedians and popular cartoons making that exact claim, often to howls of laughter.

          So we are left with the argument that Rowling is not well versed on Native American religions. True enough, she could do better, although I can’t imagine anyone who read her books actually expecting it. And of course, that raises the question – how much is enough? Who decides she is sufficiently well versed? As you would know if you were familiar with Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, if you hadn’t just ignored it because it was inconvenient like so many westerners do to Muslims these days, that is a question which can’t be answered. Rushdie was born and raised in Islam and dedicated many years to studying it, and yet when his book was published he was sent innumerable death threats and people associated with the publication were murdered for aiding its release.

          Sorry, it’s just fiction – deal with it.

        • ILoveLunaLoveGood

          the examples given were written by people with limited understanding of Christianity, and most of them claimed Jesus was a hoax or a story embelished alot AND found ways to expain away many aspects of His Divinity… plenty of Christians were offended though.

    • Yes. There is no reason to be offended by that, because no one is required to be reverent to your specific religious traditions. Why is that so hard for people to grasp?

      • Terrie_S

        Because we recognize the difference between “reverence” and basic empathy and respect for our fellow human beings?

        • I have empathy and respect for human beings. The notion that I need to have respect for their belief systems (something I find highly ironic on this thread, given how Christianity was used as a justification for the mass slaughter of indigenous peoples) is as ridiculous as the beliefs themselves.

          Belief systems are not people. They are not sacred cows. They should be up for depiction, discussion, criticism, and mockery. That’s why I’m excited to celebrate Zombie Jesus Day this coming April, and I hope you are too.

          • Terrie_S

            Only that’s not what happened in this case. In this case, Rowling spouted a bunch of nonsense. You might as well call the claim that the blood Chrisitan babies is used to make matzoh as “depiction, discussion, criticism, and mockery.”

            • Claiming that Native American shape-shifters were animagi is not “a bunch of nonsense” in the world of her books. Have you even read them?

  • Matty Fresh

    A casually racist English person?!?

    Also, is this a good place to share my view that the entire series is poorly written dreck? An owl brings the mail, people and a recurring comedic theme is that one owl has bad vision.

  • Thralk

    Hi, I’m new this blog so sorry if this is a stupid question.

    Where you say, “This is not the way to learn about or be introduced to contemporary and living Native cultures”, I am just wondering – what is the way to learn or be introduced?


    • Beeble

      If the cultures are closed, as in not open to outsiders, then those wanting to learn will just have to accept that. In this age of rapid information sharing thanks to the internet, people forget that not everything is open to them to learn or even know about, and that has to be respected. Let those cultures decide who does and does not know about their sacred beliefs and practices.

      Attending open cultural practices like pow-wows is a good introduction to some living Native activities, in my opinion.

      • Virilio

        What culture is so closed that I couldn’t find someone from that culture to write a story about? Culture is fluid, you know? You can have old leaders in a culture saying “please don’t spread our culture!”. But people are people, character and personality define people more than their culture (for example, there are shy and exuberant people from any culture). Not everybody puts ideology before humanity. You will always find people human enough to consider a cultural exchange.

  • It is deeply disappointing, but there is one small bright note in the little bit she posted:

    At least she’s making it clear that in her world, ALL non-magical people are dicks.

    • strega2012

      Seems like there are tons of magical dicks in her world, too.

  • MizzyMel

    So they had “visions and premonitions” with the Euro’s but conveniently no visions and premonitions about the impending colonization and thus slaughter of their people by the Euro’s? Got it.

    • strega2012

      Well, her wizards didn’t predict or stop Hitler either, did they?

      • Mixelle

        Read about Dumbledore’s fight with Grindelwald and note the year.

  • Barth Anderson

    Thank you kindly for taking the time to write this. I’m learning a ton.

  • CptFalconPunch

    Thank you so much for this series of articles!

  • Sandra

    I don’t understand how someone can be critiqued for being ignorant of a culture while simultaneously being told it is none of their business to learn more?
    Surely the best way would be to be open about our cultures and allow others (and ourselves) to embrace it and everything that comes with it?
    I understand that Native American cultures may operate differently, but it just feels that taking that stance doesn’t seem to be helping the cause negating stereotypes and of creating an educated and accepting society.

    • cholula1111

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you for posting your thoughts. Your have raised important points, IMO. I hope that I may provide a useful response. I am a professional writer, editor, and I have completed undergraduate and graduate level coursework in ethnographic, linguistic, ceremonial, civil rights, gender, and other cultural features for appx. 30 indigenous groups in N. and Central America, and many groups from other locations in the world.

      I am also of Native American extraction, in part. I have worked with, lived among, trained with, and been an instructor to indigenous peoples from many locations.

      One of the most valuable things I learned through my adult learning process so far is this:

      A critical part of having respect for other human beings is this concept: No one has the inherent right to demand to know the private worlds of any individual, or group, just because they decide that they want to know.

      Information is often reserved to certain individuals for many reasons, including:
      — it is classified by civil law,
      — is reserved for only certain members of a religious group, because it is considered to be sacred,
      — or because it is deeply personal and potentially unnecessarily damaging to the individual or group by virtue of exposure.

      People have the right to control the dissemination of certain information for many reasons. They are not required to share it just because someone decides that they want to know it.

      No one should be required to do that in order to “be accepted”, i.e., to be treated with respect by other human beings, because that is a form of unethical use of force.

      Writers who are not permitted to access protected information may decide to fabricate anything that they wish, instead. Doing so is not necessarily ethical, or helpful.

      Doing so may even be harmful.

      They can also decide not to make things up, and to do something else, instead.

      J.K. Rowling chose to make things up about multiple things that–according to hundreds, or even thousands of years of tribal traditions and experiential knowledge–she has no right to know, and that could cause unnecessary harm both by her knowing it, and by sharing it.

      There are people who read her books who may believe that she is writing truths about these things, and use that information as though it is true, which might also cause harm in some unforeseen ways.

      Rowling may also be misrepresenting tribal-related information that she could obtain ethically, but has not bothered to do, preferring instead, to fabricate a false representation of indigenous peoples as a convenient plot device, or a pat form of composite character construction.

      Many indigenous people do not approve of that form of uninformed fictionalization, because they have suffered because of this tactic for hundreds of years, both from well-meaning and willfully harmful individuals and groups.

      Thank you for considering these thoughts.

      • Sandra

        Thank you so much for this response. I guess I never really knew how much privacy means to Native American peoples.
        I think my confusion on the wider issue comes back to whether it is harmful to adapt stories and cultures into a clearly fictitious world, versus perpetuating stereotypes and touting them as truth or history?
        As an African, I’m very used to our peoples and cultures being romanticised and adapted in fiction. And when I immigrated overseas, I faced my fair share of ignorance (“Do you all really ride on elephants and have lions as pets?!?!”). But I put that fault on the few stupid people talking to me, not necessarily the author of said fiction.
        Thanks again for taking the time to discuss!

      • Annabelle Carrell

        Thank you Sandra for your thoughts and cholula1111 for your response.
        cholula1111, I agree and respect that information dissemination is up to the discretion of the individuals/parties holding such information. Related to what Sandra said about “negating stereotypes and of creating an educated and accepting society”, though, I can see where while oppressive and unfortunate, withholding information could be counterproductive to curbing the ignorance and appropriation of many aspects Native American cultures. I thought the author of the post’s approach of saying what was harmful and explaining either what was accurate (in terms of the distinction of different Native American communities) or saying the information is private (in terms of the skin walkers) was a good way to communicate and inform without disclosing more private information. Hopefully with posters like Dr. Keene there will be a decrease in ignorance and an increase in acceptance.
        In response to Sandra, I guess I’d say negating ignorance can come not just from knowing more, but also from knowing what is private (i.e. what is okay and in fact preferred that you know nothing about).

      • Eivind Drivdal

        The second of the 3 reasons you mention for “reserving” information to certain groups, namely “is reserved for only certain members of a religious group, because it is considered to be sacred” can easily come into conflict with fundamental values in our society though.

        Keeping entire areas of human experience outside of learning, outside of scrutiny and outside of critique conflicts with other ideals that most of us hold dear. It’s pretty common that people wish that “outsiders” keep their fingers off certain subject-matters, but there are (in general, not specific to Native Americans) often good reasons NOT to respect such wishes.

        Scientologists want their holy/sacred texts not to be disseminated and subjected to critical scrutiny. Muslims want Muhammed to not be depicted or critiqued. Christians want the bible to escape criticism. And yet, it’s very basic to the functioning of our society that we ARE allowed to investigate and critique all of these things, even when the insiders would prefer that we didn’t.

        Anyone is entitled to not talk about certain subjects; but it ends up looking kinda weird when one and the same person says that information on a given subject is something they’re going to refuse to provide (this is their right!), and at the same time critique outsiders for lacking a better understanding of the subject.

        • Christians and Scientology try to convert others to their one and true belief though, so their trying to protect their holy texts from scrutiny is a whole other game.

          • Eivind Drivdal

            Fair enough. But critiquing others about being clueless about your beliefs while at the same time doing your best to ensure that they can’t learn the truth about your beliefs is nevertheless pretty silly.

            If you think that outsiders aren’t entitled to know, then that’s fine, but then you’ll just have to accept that many outsiders will be clueless and get it wrong.

            • I just find it quite arrogant that people would think they are entitled to know all about someone else culture and all the private details of it. What gives anyone the right to pry into intimate things like that?
              And if you are clueless, I’d say have the humility to know you are clueless and don’t talk about it like you know what you are talking about.

              • Eivind Drivdal

                Religion and culture isn’t “private” in the same sense as details of your own individual life are. Investigating cultural and/or religious practices isn’t the same thing as prying into the private life of a individual.

                Rowling could of course have written about magic in historical North-America while making no mention at all of Native Americans, but if she did, how do you think THAT would have been received? We’d be hearing screams of erasure instead. And flat out demanding that nobody who isn’t Native American write any fiction at all set in historical Northern America is a bit much to demand.

                It doesn’t seem reasonable to me to create a situation where all the answers are wrong, in a sense:

                1) Include Native Americans, but get some aspects wrong: get accused of appropriation and/or cluelessness.

                2) Try to investigate in order to get it right: get told that you’re not “entitled to know”.

                3) Write the story, but don’t mention Native Americans at all: get told that you’re guilty of erasure.

        • Amanda Emily Smith

          Outsiders do not have to know the inner workings of Native spirituality to respect a person’s right to their beliefs. Have you read all the books in the private vault at the Vatican? Have you been inside a Mormon tabernacle? Unless you are an approved member of those communities, the answer is no. If you made up what you think happens in either place and disseminated it, those religious groups would claim you are misrepresenting information that you are not even entitled to learn. The same implies here.

          • JJHAYES

            I have never run across this with respect to Catholicism. I do not believe that this is true with respect to the Vatican and spiritual matters. I think, it is a basic tenet of Catholicism that the means spiritual advancement is not secret, that it is open to all. In fact it was condemned as heresy a long time ago to think that only certain elect people were capable of learning or allowed access to such truths. The writings of the saints and “mystics” in the Catholic tradition are all public and most are available online. So this is somewhat unfair to the Vatican. The so-called secret archives in the Vatican, seem more like typical archives about secular stuff and are in fact open to scholars of every faith. People have constantly made up fiction about what secrets are in the Vatican, isn’t that what Dan Brown’s novels were about? I don’t believe the Church, claimed he was misrepresenting information that he was not entitled to learn, maybe only that he was misrepresenting information, but certainly that he is not entitled to learn it. Maybe I have missed something.

            • Amanda Emily Smith

              The Church boycotted the movie and suggested all Catholics do the same. But in regard to the rest of your post, do you know only Catholics can receive Communion from a Catholic priest? It is exclusive. The Catholic church can excommunicate (cut folks off from their faith). So, whom they share their rituals are up to them. We accept this as a society. We accept that the Church can deny Communion to non-Catholics. We accept that without question, yet why question when Natives say they do not share this particular part of their faith with the public?

              • chloe85

                But a Catholic priest would tell you, probably in great detail, why non-Catholics can’t participate in communion. And it’s restriction that is frequently ignored, including by Catholics who receive communion when they’re not supposed to.

                • Katherine

                  Right. Knowledge about Communion is free for all, even if participation in the sacrament is limited.

                • Amanda Emily Smith

                  Catholics can receive Communion at any time of we say the part before Communion asking for our sins to be forgiven. Some Catholics do abstain until they have had confession and done penance. The only answer a Catholic priest gives for why other Christians can’t have Communion in the Catholic church is that they are not Catholic. See, the ritual is exclusive to Catholics as the Native sacred knowledge is to certain tribes of Natives.

              • jak

                Because you aren’t comparing like things. The only way your argument would be valid is if Rowling demanded to participate in the rituals of a native american society. But she didn’t. She chose to write a work of fiction.

                • Mixelle

                  using disrespectful stereotypes. As a writer she has a responsibility to living communities of people like Native Indians.

                  • Angel

                    What exactly were her “disrespectful stereotypes”? I would really like to for you to point them out to me.

                  • jak

                    No she doesn’t.

                • Amanda Emily Smith

                  Every time a work of fiction has come out that the Catholic church disagreed or disliked the portrayal of Catholics, they boycotted it and asked Catholics to all do the same. Rowling is writing a piece another Native magic and Natives are calling her portrayal of them and their faiths into question. That is totally valid.

              • JJHAYES

                Oh I fully support the right of people to keep their sacred texts secret, and only to allow members to participate in their rituals. So I was not criticizing the keep of the secret. I was saying that I didn’t think the Church kept such things secret. So I agree with you on the right to keep secret and the right to exclude. But I also fully endorse people speculating and making up stuff about the things that are kept secret! If you take a particular stance you must pay the consequences, and one of the consequences of secrecy is that people will speculate especially if it makes for good reading or viewing. I was just pointing out that the ceremonies and rituals and writings themselves are not kept secret in Catholicism. I think it was idiotic to call for a boycott of that movie. Catholics were free to ignore the suggestion and go without being excommunicated or anything like that. Anyway I was not criticizing any particular native American practice, just pointing out that your example was not really on point with respect to the Church.

          • jak

            That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with it. Upsetting people who willfully resisted participation is really not worth worrying about.

          • Eivind Drivdal

            I didn’t claim you need to know inner workings in order to respect their right to their belief.

            What I claimed was that there are important reasons that are pretty fundamental to our society why we do not, generally speaking, accept the claim that “it’s holy” is a sufficient argument to take a matter out of the public discussion.

            Of course they’re entitled to complain about outsiders misrepresenting their beliefs, it’s just that you look a bit silly if you in effect say:

            “This representation is wrong, this isn’t in fact what we actually believe. But you’re not entitled to know the truth, and I’m going to ‘performing a refusal’, so I won’t tell you what you got wrong or how you got it wrong, I’ll instead just critique you being wrong, even though I’m also going to do my best to ensure you stay uninformed.”

            It’s not reasonable to critique others for being uninformed if, at the same time, you’re doing your best to keep them that way.

            I reject the idea that religious groups have the right to determine what anyone else is “entitled” to learn. They’re of course entitled to not cooperate with people who seek to learn, but that’s not the same thing. I can refuse to teach you about the beliefs of Vikings. But I don’t have the right to stop you from learning about those beliefs from other sources.

        • Lisa Heder

          so i can’t talk much about catholicism or different native american cultures, but i can point out that as a member of the LDS faith (mormon), i can relate the sacredness and privacy that native american cultures need about certain things to our own temple ordinances and customs.

          what we do in the temple, we don’t really like talking about outside of it, even to fellow members who may not have visited the temple yet, but we all know that it is not actually harmful (physically or otherwise). so no, we don’t need our ordinances and customs open to outside critique, even though that is what has happened – people who have gone through the temple, then left the church, and talked about it to others and put up videos and stuff online, so now you can look it up. the problem with that is, though, that you’ll find a lot of stuff about our ordinances that isn’t true.

          this is what is happening to native american cultures. except it’s worse for them, because they are much more oppressed, marginalized, and ridiculed than us mormons have ever been. i believe that if a group of people consider something sacred, and that sacred something IS NOT HARMFUL TO OTHERS, then no, they are not required to tell everyone who asks about any information they prefer to keep private.

          a huge part of why they may prefer to do so is because they are worried that outsiders may treat it disrespectfully, try to appropriate it, or, as what’s happened before, try to get it banned or discontinued through whatever means (legal, social, etc).

          so i can understand where these concerns are coming from. i’ve had my religion mocked and disrespected plenty of times before, but never to the extent of what has happened to native american cultures in north america. so if they don’t want to tell me anything about skinwalkers, then they just don’t have to. it’s my job to respect and understand that, and then, as a writer myself, don’t try and rewrite their customs to make up my own story.

      • Edmund La Clair

        You raise several excellent points, and I see the problematic nature of this, but who may decide what information is privileged? In Native culture, is not the decisions of Elders to withhold information itself a privilege? What if younger people wish to share? Who actually owns the culture? Can culture be a possession? Is the idea of owning culture and being able to control who can and can not enjoin a culture itself not a form of colonialism? I’m not entirely sure it is fair to tell Rowling she can not write about a human culture outside her direct personal experience because it is “owned” by someone else, she owns her own mind and experiences and has obviously experienced this culture she wishes to write about but perhaps not with the needed experiences and sensitivity to do it in a way that pleases everyone in that culture or your own culture. There’s a deeper conversation that I’d dearly love to see addressed here. I’m writing this as someone who is an academic, wrestles with protecting certain identities/cultures with the need to share and learn from them. I’ve met many Native American Elders who wish to share and teach their culture, but up to and no further than a certain point where the information is reserved for more closely connected humans. Yet, human culture is socially constructed and prior to colonization, was much more freely shared and transmitted. I worry we over-correct for the sins of colonization by declaring someone “owns” culture. If this is true, must we return written language to Sumerians? The concept of a solar god who is born and dies again to the Egyptians? Ultimately printing presses to the Han? Or the Chinese? The blending of culture/ethnicity and appropriation is a fascinating topic that I’m very confused what to say or think about and am instead filled with questions and a deep awareness I look like a white male to the visual gaze.

        • Lisa Heder

          your questions are really interesting, and bring up a good point! i think, though, there is some sort of answer to who ‘owns’ culture and how they can share it can sort of be answered by this.

          when europeans colonized north america and hawai’i, a lot of their traditions were shut down, outlawed, and banned. i feel like a huge part of what has been happening the last several decades (and longer probably) is that so much of the various native american cultures were destroyed, that now those who live today are forced to, instead of progressing their culture, preserve it. the natural progression has been interrupted and delayed because of colonization and the willing destruction of their culture, so now people are desperate to just keep it alive at this point. so, so, so, so much has been lost, that it’s understandable why people would rather keep it to themselves, instead of let outsiders share ownership in it.

          a lot of traditions and customs ARE being shared, but part of that is because proliferation is an excellent way to keep something alive. however, it’s still often mocked and taken in the wrong way, that it’s become difficult to present the true version, instead of what outsiders have imposed on us. i am a white girl, and i know precious little about native american cultures, but i do understand that a lot of what has been presented to us in the media has been filtered through a predominantly white gaze built on years of colonization and power. instead of going to the next town over and actually asking to speak with a Navajo person, i’m more likely to just google stuff and find sooooo much misinformation.

          so yes, at this point in time, native americans “own” their culture. things that you pointed out at the end of your comment, like the printing press or written language, things like that, don’t need to be returned mainly because they might not necessarily have been stolen, mocked, and disfigured the way that native american cultures have. outsiders like me need to understand that we have all but destroyed a lot of native cultures when our ancestors settled the americas, so we need to step back and try to help them rebuild their culture, and not say “include me in it!!!!!!”

          i’m sorry if a lot of that didn’t make sense, i’m not super-educated on stuff like this but i’m trying really hard to understand it.

      • m1shu

        This is a fascinating approach. I’m curious to your response to this.

        Prior the 60s, Chinese martial arts martial arts masters believed that Kung Fu should only be taught to Chinese. Bruce Lee disagreed. He believed Kung Fu should be available for everyone, Chinese, white, black, whoever. Did Bruce Lee sell out Chinese culture by allowing for this cultural appropriation? Are the Kung Fu elders racist for objecting to black people being taught Kung Fu?

        • Brockland A.T.

          Since cholula1111 is not a Chinese martial arts elder or likely knows any, she may not feel comfortable committing an answer to what appears to be a leading question.

          Some Chinese weapons are illegal, and there have been on and off talk to make martial arts illegal in some states, but nowhere near the kind of suppression Aboriginals faced, plus the Chinese can sort of defend their culture, there being many wholly sovereign Chinese communities still practicing martial arts.

          However, anyone having lurked white supremacist forums, where they even have threads on Bruce Lee, its clear white supremacists have no compunction over beating up any white or non-white with martial arts, including Chinese, with Chinese martial arts, for not being like them. Its possible maybe Bruce Lee was wrong and his elders, correct over open public teaching.

          The whiteness sense of entitlement doesn’t end there. Practitioners of pankration, the reconstructed ancient Greek Olympic event from such detailed original sources as pictures on pottery fragments, is hailed by whiteness chauvanists as being the direct ancestor to Asian martial arts. Alexander the Great’s conquest of part of India introduced pankration to Asia, and it is alleged the natives adopted it as their own.

          Apart from the problem that Asians appear to have been killing each other with martial arts long prior to Alexander the Great, and had contact with Africa via trade long before Greece. Asians also never adopted the Greek phalanx, armour styles, and other effective Greek warfighting techniques. So why they picked up a Greek martial genre decried by Ancient Greeks themselves as all spectacle and no skill defies reason. Still, this is yet another attempt at culture war; whites had Asian martial arts first and are entitled to AMA gratification now.

          The real origins of martial arts likely reside in non-white Africa. A recent archaeological find at Lake Turkana, Kenya is of a hunter-gatherer massacre some 10,000 years ago. People have been fighting for a long time. The original source of Greek culture was Cretan and Egyptian civilization. The Egyptian sacred martial art was wrestling, and one of the earliest known, and still quite accurate, martial arts records is a wrestling manual found in an Egyptian tomb. This is taking the concept of ‘origins’ very loosely. Asian martial arts are unique in that some have an unbroken lineage of recorded, largely unchanged, widespread use from centuries-past founding artists to the present. A few hundred years – not thousands.

          The recent phenomenon of mixed martial arts lauds the supremacy of Western boxing and wresting over the classical Chinese martial arts. In a controlled sporting environment where maiming and killing aren’t allowed and medical support immediately present, it should hardly be surprising that war – martial – arts can’t be used to full effect. It would be against the spirit of the art to engage in such spectacle and there is, or should be, attached to the imparting of material technique, a more comprehensive social moral code than just good sportsmanship.

          In Western pop culture, other than Bruce Lee, what other overtly Asian actor from North America, or Great Britain, or Australia or Europe can you mention as being an action star, let alone a normal movie star playing a normative lead male characters? Are not normative lead male characters white and ambiguously Jewish? Aren’t most lead action stars white, black, and increasingly, Latino, not Chinese? Again, stop blaming Chinese elder martial artist for recognizing a certain lack of reciprocity. Blacks can make no more claim to entitlement than whites, and its not a race thing; Chinese masters won’t teach just any Chinese off the street either.

          Hollywood has made horrid use of the talents of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee, while taking Hong Kong action films and making competent Western copies or hybrids with white actors. The whole Xena Princess Warrior phenomenon in the 1990s was taken from Hong Kong cinema’s Chinese warrior princesses; producer Robert Tapert was a huge fan of chop sukey and repackaging it as totally original groundbreaking Western cultural innovation rather was incredibly successful.

          So again, were the Chinese elder masters right or wrong? Are the Aboriginal nations really capable of dealing with redsploitation as well as say, the black population in America manages blaxsploitation? Why would they even want to?

          J.K. Rowling can stay out of Asian culture as well, but unlike Aboriginal culture, its probably for sale as the Chinese don’t have a very good grasp of culture war, if Once Upon a Time in China and America are any indicator.

      • Riku Buholzer

        One of the most misguided things I’ve ever run across when I was close to the Native community was exactly that belief that sharing secrets would cause more harm than good. Just because people may get interested in or “try to make money” from knowing about the sun dance or sweats doesn’t mean the real culture will be lost. Not telling anything leaves the local korean tour guide free to tell tourists that Natives are all just drug users who feed coca cola to their babies instead of milk, to which those tourists have only the image they see and their tour guide for knowledge. At the same time efforts to teach Native kids their language in a desperate attempt to pass on what is left are failing. They want to remain secret, complain when a misrepresentation arises , but also struggle to stop the loss of cultural knowledge amongst themselves due to the irrelevance of it in an urban multicultural environment.

        When I look at that I see a failed policy. Whats so bad about telling people about the creator? Or how ancestors are integral to many ceremonies? Or how spirit animals are a thing and people have names based off of their animal? My spirit animal is the Coyote and I don’t care if people know that. Isn’t it better if people have something good and interesting to know about Natives other than they complain a lot and are generally impoverished? If they want to just be invisible forever okay, but then don’t also complain about being invisible and open to misrepresentation. So many other cultures handle themselves better, like Japan which tries to actually promote their culture and actually has influencing power.

        • Mixelle

          Rowling will probably make another billion dollars from the new books…is that okay? Will she give any of the money to native communities?

          • Riku Buholzer

            She doesn’t have to, it’s her work that she spent her own labour making. Crayon shin chan had a game where they went to some “Arabia land” in one segment and sold the game for ds. This is her book so yes, otherwise some royalty system would have to be in place for every mention of a race by a non member for their work. Hello kitty as my previous example would owe tons of money to Britain.

            • Brockland A.T.

              Whomever made that ‘open sesame’ game probably picked up the base memes from Western sources, and 1001 Arabian Nights is a hybrid work across many Middle Eastern and Indian sources, distilled by Western publishing houses in the late 19th century, backed by scholarly attempts to define accurate source material. Also, although perhaps not the best source of the Arab aesthetic, it has been a dominant source.

              Hello Kitty was made by a Japanese Anglophile with access to source culture material as needed to make an anthropomorphic cat for a corporation selling stuff to Japan and worldwide. The power relationship distinctly favours the English, who are held in high regard by the Japanese as civilized human beings in kind, not rude characterizations.

              Expressing power is what much of this controversy is all about. J.K. Rowling, or rather, her fanatical fans and aggressive publishers, are cool with extorting original source material from Aboriginals or else they’ll make something up or totally support making stuff up. That’s kind of a little dirty.

          • Riku Buholzer

            I’m not sure if this is a repost… but this is what I wrote before in case it didn’t show up properly….
            She doesn’t have to, it’s her work that she spent her own labour making. Crayon shin chan had a game where they went to some “Arabia land” in one segment and sold the game for ds called “Arashi o Yobu Nutte Crayoon Daisakusen! “. In that segment, the father is a turban wearing magician who opens up the cave of wonders saying “Open sesame”, his friend Kazama wears a wrapped turban and his name is changed to “Sinbad” and he flies on a magic carpet, and the dog Shiro is a genie.

            This is her book so yes its okay she makes money, and no, she doesn’t owe anyone anything. Otherwise some royalty system would have to be in place for every mention of a race by a non member for their work. Hello kitty as my previous example would owe tons of money to Britain.

        • Brockland A.T.

          Local Korean tour guide?

          Well, whatever. In order to fit in, its not unusual for first and second generation immigrants to adopt local prejudices as their own.

          • Riku Buholzer

            Hi Brockland and thank you for the counter-opinions. You’re coming a bit late so I don’t know if I can reply to everything with as much clarity as I’d like but I’ll try to answer as mun as I can with he time I have.

            So the Korean tour guide was pretty bad, and that’s the kind of representation I would concur is bad and also that kind if thing in a movie I definitely can see the potential damage as it’s influential.after talking with many people it appears that there isn’t the want or ability of natives to come forward with he truth of their culture though so even if we’ve stopped representing them the negative images persist hence the Korean comment. You mentioned if learning chinese was bad, no it’s not in itself; I worry natives will lack the demographic strength to avoid having to assimilate to another language or culture that becomes more dominant or popular. I witnessed this with Chinese so I used that language in particular.

            In regards to Shania, she could have been made that way to appeal to whites, but I can’t speculate. I thought that was the only part that was “wrong” dispite all the other parts of turning into monsters and stuff.

            My family was from an active group and they split and joined other native groups. I meant my family has bad total loss of cultural memory and it’s terrible, and I’d like for that not to happen to anyone else but it always felt to me that being secretive about it and not taking an initiative to teach large scale will always leave the opportunity open for misappropriation and misunderstanding. I can see why jk rowlings book wouldn’t help with an accurate understanding but it first shouldn’t be educational and then I’m still opposed to the decision to be silent on the part of natives.

            That’s all I have time for a the moment but once again thank you for the opinions and also those whom I’ve talked with before as wihout all of that there isn’t a good way to come to any consensus or reflect on our thoughts. I’ll try to give more of a satisfactory response when and if I can.

            • Brockland A.T.

              No problem. I’m sorry for your loss and that of your people, and my aggressive argumentative behavior, which isn’t necessarily helpful.

              Identity starts with the self and family, and you have their stories and yours. Being welcomed as part of a larger historical community of honest cultural peers can be helpful, even an adopted one.

              As long as you know what you stand for and why its positive. Whether or not anyone can persuade you is secondary to your ability to judge veracity for yourself and uphold what you believe, and not be a mindless follower of the latest ephemeral pop thing, or worse, apply yourself to a wrong thing.

              Free thinking with disciplined reason and responsibility to the greater good seems to have been a Aboriginal cultural constant across many nations, as opposed to freedom to feel good without responsibility that characterizes Western pop and religious culture gratification.

              Western civilization owes a lot to many Aboriginal nations, those surviving and those lost forever. And are pointedly ingrates about that. The knowledge is out there, such as the Haudenosaunee (Iroquis Confederacy) Great Law of Peace (Constitution). Vast amounts of information were freely shared by their original bearers, from how to plant corn to how to run a government. If today’s survivors fear misuse of the esoteric details of what’s left, they have precedent.


              • Riku Buholzer

                Hi again. I’m going to have to apologize for the fact that I simply don’t have the time to answer every single point even though you’ve made quite the effort on this board to come up with very thought out responses and don’t worry about the way it came across – a public forum isn’t the best place for truth as there’s an element of needing to best the other side to save face even. But because of the amount you’ve written I’m going to have to cut right to the chase and skip past all the other ones about how I feel.

                So you mentioned that they have precedent and I can agree, but firstly I just feel that its misguided to want to have no misrepresentation in the media and then also not be forthcoming with a clear explanation about what the cultures really are like. I know you’ve probably made a point that there aren’t enough people that can or even know at this point enough to share the knowledge, but I thought about people wearing chicken-feather headdresses and thought, is there a better way than just banning it? And I thought I wouldn’t be offended about it but I’d rather just feel embarrassed for those people and would try to explain and promote it if they wanted to know. I know that there’s a huge element of power involved and I’m not trying to be obtuse even if it appears that way, but I think that the way Natives handle the situation could be improved or changed into one more accepting of outsider interest. I’m worried that from this backlash even, perhaps as we can see from on here, people will lump them together with over-sensitive thought police or so, and it indeed has kind of turned me away from wanting to be around Natives again (I was already turning that way from past experiences).

                I remember seeing a comment on another site that said “Skin walkers are bad medicine and even doing anything related to them is bad for you”, which, me not being an unbeliever in Native spirituality came across as a legitimate reason not to include that particular element. Maybe if that is bad medicine and so is letting people in on the Sun Dance or something, those elements could be changed for some cloaked organization or so and keep the narrative the same. Other elements I wouldn’t care about so much, particularly if the characters are fully fleshed out individuals that aren’t pushing a negative impression of Natives. Maybe no one is thinking the same thing as me but I’d enjoy having memorable Native characters who are just good for their character. Even with colonialism, even with power imbalances, even with not having a hand in the depiction, I don’t particularly mind if its an original story where we suspend our disbelief.

                That being said, this whole thing just started, and it’s a work in progress before anyone finds ground they agree on together. I don’t think its entirely possible to stop people from misunderstanding Natives in their day to day life even if misrepresentation is fully blocked without getting to know Natives or having them in the minds of people as people they can relate to. Of course a respectful way of going about it is better than unilaterally making your story about someone else, but at the same time Native people can be a bit more lenient towards fiction and, I really hope, find a way to be comfortable to explain things openly because its baffling for other people seeing this shut out mindset.

                Last thing is just while writing this I had a conversation about the Kayan tribe known for long necks and found out that in order to survive they had to adopt tourism in order to get money. It might not fit as my train of thought was disrupted, but I don’t want that to happen to anyone where they remain isolated for so long that their demographic power dwindles and are forced to adapt to their surroundings like almost too late, and my thinking comes from my bias of someone who is kind of in the same position with my tribe in the Ganges being totally gone.

                This is all I probably have time to write about. You’ve made a lot of points so this isn’t a satisfactory answer even to myself, but this is what I’ll do and you don’t need to agree. I find I also don’t like the online forum’s tendency to demonize the other view, even though I know no one is saying something they don’t believe in. I’m also not able to spend so much time on this, so it’s probably where I’ll stop.

                Thanks to Mixelle, A. Noyd, 白小狼(Mark Bryan), Deb Krol, Alea iacta est., disqus_zlucDgSWr0, Flanders, Susan White, Amanda Emily Smith, cholula1111, ericphillips, and you for bringing up your points.

                • Brockland A.T.

                  You are right, no amount of banning or thought policing will solve the core problem, only exacerbate and polarize intolerance and bigotry on both sides, an undesirable outcome. Only knowledge and understanding can enforce true goodwill, freely given.

                  You are also correct, shared knowledge can lead to greater understanding. Explaining what a skinwalker really is to a particular Aboriginal system, is at the discretion of the knowledge bearer. However, let the knowledge be in full, at the discretion of the bearer, whether versed in authentic details of skinwalking, a PhD in Aboriginal culture, or just someone with knowledge of the narrative. Context is everything in the narrative.

                  Clearly, there is some public knowledge that skinwalker is the Aboriginal version of the shapeshifter, the shapeshifter itself, a worldwide phenomenon in belief systems living and dead. Skinwalker is just another word for shapeshifter in the public parlance. So the issue is not merely the skinwalker, but right to command the narrative of it in the living Aboriginal aesthetic, even in defiance of the responsibility to respect.

                  J.K. Rowling and her corporate backers and fanatics do not have this authenticity. They merely wish to cast a feel good ‘noble savage’ entertainment spell for financial gain that, whether she cares to admit it or not, will abet ongoing hostile racial cultural supremacism that has greatly profited her people. Their hunger for the spirituality of others, and concurrent denial of the spirituality of the other, suggests their profit is the greater part material and otherwise harmful. Should the Potterverse persist in such mockery, the fakery must be called more completely.

                  So why not just call skinwalker a shapeshifter and remove the cosmetic Amerindian facade. That’s all it is, a facade to tell a European Christian whiteness story, not an Amerindian story validating their traditional beliefs as truefaith.

                  To return again to J.K. Rowling’s omission and erasure of Wicca from the Potterverse, its a reasoned precedent on her part; Wicca is different and not compatible.

                  Aboriginal faithkeepers likewise have every right to insist they are every bit as different and incompatible to the Potterverse as Wicca. Add to that, its not worth the value of truefaith to permit the use of truefaith in a pantomime of support of a destroyer of truefaith. Lying without appearing to lie and denial of understanding a willful deception with intent to harm. Religion has been compared to applied psychology in many ways; as such, misuse can indeed be expected to incur injury and illness.

                  How many Aboriginals have been mocked as ‘braves’, without even needing a chickenfeather outfit. Even long after they’ve left the playground and ‘grown up’. Yet, isn’t being a noble warrior a good, cool thing, at least one of the correct race? Will skinwalker become yet another pejorative despite knowing the truth of it?


                  The argument of ‘artistic license’ has been used to justify abuse of Native traditional beliefs and by extension, the persons. ‘Artistic license’ is a false analogy. The entertainment industry is not quite the wild wild west, but one regulated by formal intellectual property laws and informal courtesies.

                  The Potterverse has thousands of fans writing fanfictions. Under law, these unlicensed artists may, under fair use legal guidelines, use licensed franchises for non-profit use. Neither they or a third party may use the works for profit, or make claim to being, ‘official’ canon no matter how good or how popular they may be.

                  Authors of fanfictions may not plagiarize one another and often ask permission before using the unique characters and situations developed by another fan author with their own. Respect is expected and freely given between authors and of course, beloved characters. Abuses occur, but enforcement at this level is voluntary since legal measures are costly. Peer pressure is the last recourse to stopping the abuses of the serial greifer.

                  Fanfictions are often prefaced with a disclaimer acknowledging the unique characters and situations of the author, acknowledging the real owners of the licensed franchise, and contributions by other fan authors. Fanfiction authors are also protected by law from having their work stolen by the official franchise. If the official licensee wants a fanfic, they have to buy the rights or do without. Official licensees will often decline fanfiction submissions, and official authors, deny or at least be ambiguous about reading fanfics to avoid legal liabilities should the outcomes of the legal fiction, for whatever reason, parallel a fanfiction.

                  None of these formal or informal courtesies and protections are offered the skinwalker and its true bearers. Potterverse fans behave as addicts of feel good ‘noble savage’ fakery. As unlikely as ignorance alone is, for many of the Potterverse have demonstrated wit and informed intelligence, such is not a valid excuse.

                  The Rowling machine and its fanatics will likely continue on their disrespectful path. Chicken feathers have no meaning in the lore of feathers, but any meaning given to it, should be respectful for the chicken’s vital place in life’s tapestry.

                  A chickenfeather chief in its Hallow’een costume is more accurately a falsefeather chief, worthy of due mockery and calling out as being, a falsefeather chief, who with pride bears all the racist religious cultural supremacist baggage so willfully and maliciously woven into that image, generation upon generation of knowing ignorance, of Christian whiteness supremacism and dehumanization of the other.

                  Rowling and her people have invoked the skinwalker as theirs to mock and enslave in the service of all her people and her Christian faith against the human kindness of the other, as they always have.


                  That is the more important truth here, calling the deception and fakery of goodwill and reason and perpetuation of the cycle of hostile misdeed, not the technical details of skinwalking.

    • Ava Wilson

      This is pretty simple. Just because you’re ignorant of something doesn’t mean you’re entitled to know more about it. I’m ignorant of what you do in your bedroom – I am not entitled to be enlightened on what that is. It isn’t my business to try to write about what you do in your bedroom to begin with. Of course I could ask, and of course you could tell me, but you aren’t OBLIGATED to. This is something I will remain ignorant about and that’s *FINE*. If you don’t think this is an apt comparison, remember that cultural traditions are very intimate to the people who live them. They are, like one’s religious thoughts, sometimes MORE private than my comparison. Especially in the context of genocide, wherein survival is a key factor, and survival of these traditions hinges almost solely on them making it through the generations intact and not diluted by white fictional nonsense.

      • Nel B

        This is a perfect analogy! Thank you!

      • Cheryl

        It wouldn’t be against any rules/laws, nor would it be disrespectful to you as an individual person or your rights as a human being for a writer to take that curiosity regarding what you do in your bedroom, do some online research about what people do in bedrooms and write a story about a person of your race doing something in their bedroom. It’s fiction–and clearly marketed as such. She makes ties and comparisons to the real world, but few are those who believe that wizards and witches as she describes them (native american or otherwise) actually exist. They may be made aware to the skinwalker myth, but that’s not a bad thing.

        If anything, the reference to bits of native culture in her work will cause people to do research on their own to discover more, and if nothing else, they’ll find all the SJW’s in an uproar saying that her representation is incorrect and they’ll at least know that much. It’s worth noting, that it’s not even the first mention of that, in recent media. Trueblood mentions it a few times as well, though I don’t think it specifically gives the credit to native traditions. I’m not arguing that multiple wrongs make it okay, I just don’t think that offering an obviously fictional representation of something should be considered unacceptable behavior.

    • Brockland A.T.

      Ah, whiteness and its sense of entitlement. Real aboriginal knowledge is there for the taking, freely shared as it has always been. It colours our lives and the way we think and view the world, in fundamental ways we seem to conveniently, if not desperately prefer to, forget.

      But you only want what you want and what you want is endorsement and approval of the entitlement attitude of whiteness and the price others had to pay for its betterment and ongoing dominance.

      Prior to 1492, European culture has no advanced concept of natural law and personal freedom. The theoretical ideal of the noble savage emerged in 1672 (John Dryden, Conquest of Grenada), a natural man unspoilt by civilization living as God intended.

      The Iroquois ‘Great Law of Peace’ and specific remedies of due process were a model for Western democracies and human rights. Its just that, to be human was to be a dominant white male.

      For the first time, Western Europeans has options outside the box of feudal serfdom. Furthermore, it was safe to take from the Aboriginals; unlike say China, then the paramount global culture, there was no threat of losing the socio-cultural narrative in adopting Aboriginal ideas and artifacts and remaking them as indigenously white constructs.

      This isn’t about skinwalkers, its about who owns and who rules.

  • Annabelle Carrell

    From one of your other articles I’ve gathered you’d prefer Native Americans to be the ones writing fiction that incorporates Native American culture. In an imperfect world, how would you suggest someone like Rowling be specific enough to be respectful while also respecting your desire for non-Native Americans not to discuss some traditions?
    Sorry for my ignorance if you’ve already answered something similar somewhere else.

    • aphyde

      There’s a difference between writing about something as an outsider, presenting it as an outsider’s narrative, and making things up wholesale about people that are already on the verge of being obliterated forever by your own culture. Especially when you’re in a position to have your story remembered and replicated no matter how ignorant and unintentionally disrespectful it is. And really truly especially when the point of throwing out a few choice nuggets of a misunderstood people’s culture is to grab more of the spotlight for yourself and your own point of view.

      So, while the question wasn’t for me, I’d suggest that she not incorporate Native American culture at all unless she wants to make a real study of what is and isn’t harmful to real people’s dignity and work around that. The fact that she doesn’t even refer to specific groups of people by the names they call themselves is a pretty fair indicator of the amount of effort she put in.

      • Annabelle Carrell

        Hey, thanks for your perspective! I agree. It seems like from responses from Native Americans that her depiction was not respectful or thoughtful enough.
        Do you know of any fictional works that include Native American culture in a respectful way? While I understand your suggestion that an author “make a real study of what is and isn’t harmful to real people’s dignity and work around that”, it would be really great to have an example.
        I understand if you don’t, or don’t want to give one.

        • Gabriele Bianchetti

          I can recommend you the books written by Thomas King and Joseph Bruchac, who are Native American.
          In particular, if you are talking about literature with fantasy elements, in it, ‘Green Grass, Running Water’ and ‘Wolf Mark’ are good examples :)

  • Wolf Wylde

    JESUS CHRIST ITS A FUCKING FANTASY STORY. Can we fucking grow up yet?

    I have studied Native American History quite a bit. They keep neglecting to mention that in many cases, neighboring tribes betrayed each other to the “Evil White colonists” every bit as much as African Tribes sold their own kin into slavery to Moslems. This happened from the first decades onward. The Crow and Pawnee were infamous for hiring out as scouts against the Plains tribes in particular.

    As someone of distinctly “mutt” Origins. both from Northern Europe and North America, I find my history fascinating and delightful. What I do not find appealing is the increasingly distorted hate emanating against each other, often primarily from “elders” who claim to follow a higher spiritual path.

    I have personally sought out “North American” teachers in order to learn about my roughly Half Cherokee ancestry and have pretty well given up in disgust. Why? Because I inherited primarily Celtic and Nordic skin and hair, thats why.

    And yeah, ya oughta see what happens when you mention any sort of non standard spiritual path or traditions originating from Europe (Celtic Shamanism/Nordic Heathenry) . . . that will get you quite a response indeed.

    So beat that drum about “racism” and “prejudice” some more . . . I’m going to call a stink weasel a stink weasel on this one.

    Personally I find the similarities between Celtic/Norse and Native America so delightfully astonishing that all I can do is say “explore it for yourself” . . . Grow up, Grow out and put away the hatred and anger that you still wrap around you like a barbed wire blanket and learn our various similarities.

    The only way FORWARD is to quit allowing the past to dictate our future, and Native Americans are every bit as guilty of not doing so as anyone else.

    • Alea iacta est.

      And here we have a perfect example of how NOT to react to an article like this. Gj, gj.

      • Wolf Wylde

        Oh, I am so superficially and utterly non-contritely apologetic and sarcastically humorously challenged and sorry if I politically incorrectly damaged your feelings. Like I said, I’m calling a stink weasel a stink weasel. Exclamatory, definitive and final in intent, meaning and decisive disregard of “feewings” as opposed to “thinkings”.
        The true problem with your narrative of gentle remonstrance and political correctness is that in order to speak without harming someones overly sensitive feelings, you have to create such a convoluted diatribe of mis-representational unicorn poop that people are able to interpret it in any manner they choose. Far better to be honest and Blunt and call BULLSHIT what it is, utter BULLSHIT.
        Now if you need a safe space to go feel emotionally wounded and terminally offended, go find one somewhere in the back of your head and leave reality out of it.

        If I wanted to pretend I was a falsely altruistic and narcissisticaly self infatuated pretender to intellectual competency, I’d pretend to be you. However, life has taught me that honesty, brutal or otherwise is ALWAYS best.

        • Alea iacta est.

          You’re using words, but I don’t think you know what they mean. But keep on tilting at your “I’m so above it all/call it like it is” windmill. I mean, is that self-satisfied mess you just typed actually supposed to make you seem like the reasonable one here?

          Also, when, in the history of ever, has “you’re just oversensitive!” actually worked in changing someone’s mind? I’ll wait.

          • KnightLite

            When in the history of EVER has using phrases such as “I mean, is that self-satisfied mess you just typed actually supposed to make you seem like the reasonable one here?” EVER changed someone’s mind? You basically used the exact same inflammatory tactic you accused the other poster of right before you made the accusation you did. Maybe the feeling of superiority is addicting enough to cast aside logic in in order to obtain it.

            • Alea iacta est.

              Ahh, but you see, I have never once tried to change this guy’s mind. My first comment was ABOUT him, not TO him. But keep on keeping on.

          • Riku Buholzer

            You bring up a good point, there’s no changing the mind of someone who doesn’t give any respect to their discussion partner or the role of “counter opinion”. It’s called the “Mathew Effect” and originally refers to the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer by virtue of already being on one side. Here Wolf Wylde presents an opinion and reasoning, but by being on that side which you disagree with, he must work harder to get even a shred of respect from you than someone who is factually wrong maybe, but is on your side of the argument and vica versa. The less/more you respect someone, the more it is magnified until one side can do no wrong, and the other can do no right.

            At the very least you need to respect the “role” the other plays in the discussion and use your own points. A talking stick or feather where only one person holding it can talk at a time and the concept of the stick/feather itself is respected is a way to avoid shouting matches, but online it won’t work… so I suppose you are just too far gone to one side now.

            • Alea iacta est.

              Naw. I don’t need to respect a side that does not respect the voices of people with less power. Not all opinions are created equal, and that foolish “Both sides are valid” nonsense is why we still get folks taking climate change deniers seriously.

              • Riku Buholzer

                Eh, I kind of agree that not everyone is not every opinion is valid, but at least having points that you use to disprove others is better than simply using ad hominem. But at the least being able to hear their opinions is important;

                Mixelle talks about Rowling making money from imagery
                Dr. Keene says its not the right way to learn about culture
                You mention that they have less power
                Amanda Ellie Smith says they have no need to share their culture
                Others have implied that White people’s views are invalid

                I hear all of these and reflect on them. The way I disagree is by saying that Japanese games like the Crayon Shin chan one use imagery without consulting Arabs and sell it for profit. I learned Japanese through getting interested by “non accurate” portrayals and then actually following that interest.I actually do respect the voices, just don’t agree, and need to give my reasons why it actually is going to be worse for them power-wise if they aren’t put into people’s minds at all. I say that not wanting to share their culture was all they wanted, that’s cool, but they also want an accurate depiction which is an impasse. And I refute that denying people their voice because of the color of their skin no matter their experiences is actually contrary to Native teachings (The symbol for humanity is a circle equally divided into yellow-white,red,black)

                Wolf just mentions his experience and says that his honest is what he want to project, but you know, I only see ad hominem from you and nothing to really make a counter stance seem valid

    • Knight Chade

      i concur. it is a fantasy story. where the ideas and concepts come from, no one many lay claim to. any shaman who reads about this is laughing their ass off at the absurdity of it all. shamanism is the one path that is self directed and utilized by cultures around the world since the beginning of time. when one does the proper research one learns about peoples who’ve had shamanic backgrounds; stories, techniques, processes, ways of life, etc. are very similar with little variance. so to claim one shouldn’t talk about shapeshifters cuz it’s a navajo thing is ludacris. the same goes with talking to little people, animal communication or laying of hands healing. it’s been around forever and to say it’s only native american is asinine.

  • Heather Clever

    While I empathize over the cultural appropriation, it’s a bit confusing when you state that the real history of these concepts is “not for you to know” while in the same breath chastise us for learning about Native American culture from the wrong source. You can’t have it both ways. Dispel the myths or resign to them.

    • Jessica Powell

      I agree with this sentiment in some ways. I understand that there are some deeply religious and culturally significant traditions which should not be casually referred to in fiction; I respect that and find the dedication to preservation inspiring.

      However, if folks who are interested in including Indigenous cultures and traditions can’t be educated on what they have (seemingly) unintentionally done, why should they be motivated to research or learn more?

      As someone who cares about ending institutional racism and elevating, celebrating and highlighting all people, I am truly interested in how Indigenous people care to be included in the larger narrative. I want to help. But I’m only able to do that if you all show me, ya know?

      Peace & Love

      • Ellie

        I may be speaking out of line here, but why is it bad for outsiders to ask Natives about specific practices after someone like Rowling mentions them in her work? Isn’t the way to fight what you perceive as misrepresentation by informing others about the real traditions (and differentiating between the real thing and fantasy) rather than allowing these questions to be answered by Rowling?

        • Karyt

          Well, there is a concept in metaphysics and theosophy that essentially says the more people who know about a thing, the stronger the thing can become. The limited knowledge I have of the issue suggests that some of the Navajo stories are so dark, bloody and horrifying that they make the most malevolent horror stories of ancient Europe look like children’s tales.

          So if Rowling goes spouting off on some white-washed version of their nightmares, their beliefs might include those nightmares coming to life and literally murdering a family, tribe or nation.

          That may be an extreme example, but hyperbole is useful for making a point.

          • Eivind Drivdal

            The trouble is, people aren’t in general required to adhere to the religious beliefs of OTHERS. There exists Imams who believe scantily clad women cause earthquakes, this fact doesn’t compel women to dress modestly. And by the same token, I’m not sure why someone believing that knowing about a thing may lead to the thing happening compel non-believers to avoid learning about the thing.

    • Amanda Emily Smith

      Yes, they can. You do not have to know about their spiritual beliefs to respect them. I grew up Catholic. I didn’t know about Jewish, Protestant, Muslim faiths, but I can respect their faiths. I do not get to make up myths about them until some one tells me the truth. I do not have a right to their faith/culture. Why do you think anyone has a right to their sacred knowledge but them?

      • Mike00

        By how I practice the concepts, you don’t need to understand someone’s spiritual belief to respect them and their right to hold their own beliefs, but you do need to know about the belief to respect it. Faith as an object doesn’t have any inherent rights, rights are things which are attributed to people. You need to analyze its meaning and make sure it doesn’t conflict with your values before you can respect it on its own merits. This is different from blind deference.

        From where does the right come to block others from obtaining knowledge?

        • Amanda Emily Smith

          You are missing the point. There sacred knowledge, ie their spiritual practices and beliefs are not detachable from their culture. They are inherent to their culture. No one has to share their culture with a person for that person to respect their culture and their right to it. Many spiritual beliefs and practices around the world are only shared with those within the group who have the connection to the spiritual path and the experience with it. For example, I can not demand that Druids share with me (an uninitated person of another faith) their sacred rituals and all their beliefs or else I can disrespect their faith and fabricate my own stories about what they believe. This is just basic respect.

          • Mike00

            Respecting one’s right to their culture is separate from respecting their culture. I will respect a person’s right to their culture because I believe people are inherently deserving of respect, but I wouldn’t say the same about culture in and of itself.

            My default stance on a nonhuman object or abstract concept is neutral, neither respect nor disrespect. I take the idea of respect to mean an endorsement on the lines of “this is a commendable and valuable thing.” When I don’t denigrate it that’s out of respect for its adherents (who are inherently valuable as humans). If I have no evidence to commend or value the concept, I can’t form an opinion, so I have to remain neutral and can’t honestly say I respect the concept.

            You’re not required to tell me your secrets. It’s reasonable to ask me not to disrespect something I’m neutral about and you value. But if you want me to value it too I’d say it’s fair that you have to respect me enough to trust that I can make my own decision.

      • Charles

        People have the right to their own cultures and beliefs sure, but they do not have the right to dictate how other people think or react to their beliefs. In fact, you DO get to make up myths about whatever you want, especially if you present it as FICTION. I have my own beliefs and way of life, and it has zero effect on me if somebody disparages them, they don’t have to believe, so long as I do. Not everyone in the world is going to hold sacred the things that you do, and they have every right to say so, so long as they are not actively trying to take away your own right to say and act as you please – kind of like you are all doing to J.K. Rowling.

        • Amanda Emily Smith

          Who is you all? If what you said is true, that anyone can say whatever they want about even the most sacred things, why do you question our right to criticize the work of JK Rowling?

          • Brian

            I don’t believe Charles was not questioning the “right to criticize” but rather the “active trying to take away … the right to say and act as you please.” However, It is clear that there is not a common shared sense of “rights” on this discussion

          • Charles

            “You all” would include those who wish J.K. Rowling would write an entire encyclopedia on Native American culture before she write her book. You are right, you have every right to criticize her; but again, accept that all groups are subject to criticism or misconstructions, especially when they are unwilling to correct the misconstructions.

          • keef

            He’s not questioning your right to criticise, he’s questioning your right to dictate.

            “I don’t like what J.K Rowling did because x,y,z and i’m not comfortable with it’ Is criticism and perfectly fine

            “I don’t like what J.K Rowling did because x,y,z and she shouldn’t do it because I’m not comfortable with it” – is dictating the actions of another

      • Riku Buholzer

        You do get to be inspired by other cultures and make something new out of it. If you truly lived by those words then you would be happy to lose Mario and all games made by Nintendo featuring other races, not to mention any food like spagetti that was adopted from outside sources. You’d have to also get really mad at anyone who converts to a religion on their own and learns how to speak other languages. You’d have to denounce non white English teachers and get mad at mixed martial arts if creating something new isn’t allowed. But this is fantasy and everyone knows that, and isn’t even close to attempting to say “this is the truth”.

        The only real concern I could agree with is the fear that people would be appalled at sundances for having people getting stabbed, or someone would go on a fast, die, and then natives get sued. But if native wizards inspire people to learn more about the real culture and then sweats become commonplace that would be the best thing for the new generation who would benefit the most from learning to appreciate what they have through some suffering.

  • Ellie

    Of course the real Native traditions do not involve misunderstood wizards—don’t you think that even children are intelligent enough to understand that worlds in which wizards roam the streets are fictional and not associate them with the actual spiritual practices of Native people? Most Western fantasy is heavily based in Christian mythology, after all, and is not associated with actual Christian practices.

    Fiction and fantasy especially do not spring out of thin air. Depending on who is writing the story, both are rooted in all kinds of different traditions, which are then repurposed to create different worlds from the one we live in.

  • Mata

    Thank you for this explanation about how this is harmful and hurtful to the Native community. If you have the time and inclination I do have a further question though — if Rowling wanted to explain the North American part of the Potter universe, but had not included Native American cultures in that history, surely she also would have been adopting a colonial mindset and again suggesting that those cultures don’t matter. How then can she portray them in a way that is not harmful and doesn’t appropriate cultural concepts and ideas? Is there any way of bringing them into the universe that is respectful?

    • Annabelle Carrell

      Dr. Keene, if you have the time, answering this question would answer mine. I wanted to point it out so that if you have the time you don’t have to repeat yourself.

      • blitva

        seconded :)

        • della3274

          Mine too

    • Stasmo

      This is the catch-22 that no one is addressing. If Rowling chose “not to go there”, you can bet your bottom dollar on these very same people crying out “erasure!” for not being represented… Some people are never happy.

      • PrincessOfTheCrystal

        there’s such thing as a balance here. you’re basically saying people never any right to complain.

        • Stasmo

          They could at the least raise the issue respectfully instead of going into full-blown condescending attack mode. Rowling’s not the enemy. She’s proven her compassionate credentials through the causes she supports and the charities she runs. To err is human. If she has made errors out of ignorance, give the benefit of the doubt and approach the discussion assuming the best of intentions rather than the worst,

          • jak

            But this is how you drive traffic to your inane blog!

          • PrincessOfTheCrystal

            i really have a problem with “proven her compassionate credentials”, it feels like you can buy your way into not being problematic which isn’t how it works. doing some good stuff doesn’t mean you can’t be oblivious on other causes.

            • Stasmo

              Wow, you really hate Rowling don’t you? Even when she does good there must be something nefarious about it! She makes a mistake, she’s bad. She does good, she’s still bad because… something something. She has proven her compassionate credentials, how has she not? She has done a lot to help people less fortunate than her and all her books are soaked with that theme. I did not say she was perfect. I did not say she can’t be oblivious. But you attack attack attack. Give me a break. Rowling’s got money, she can use it selfishly or she can use it positively. She’s trying to use it positively. She’s not Donald Trump. You just sound bitter.

          • PrincessOfTheCrystal

            and remember the HP books were very white and straight

            • Stasmo

              I’ll grant you it doesn’t focus on queer issues, but as a gay person myself I don’t see why that matters. Aren’t we more than our sexuality? Not everything book has to focus on sexual orientation – or even bring it up. LGBT people make up maybe 5-10% of the population. Unless the book specifically revolves around that theme it’s not a requirement, It’s a nice bonus. There’s no need to expect authors to go into the sexual lives of background characters if the main characters are not LGBT themselves. That’s just picky. If you want books catered to your every demand, your best bet is to write them yourself because no author can please everyone’s pet agenda.

              Very white? Come off – have you even read the books? Dean Thomas, Angelina Johnson, Lee Jordan, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Cho Chang (I know people have issues with the name), Parvati and Padma Patil etc.. are non-white characters I can come up with off the top of my head, playing relatively big roles outside of the main trio. Again, catch-22… everyone says we shouldn’t focus on skin colour, race etc… and then when authors don’t bring it up, people like you complain they aren’t there! Do you just enjoy complaining?

              • keef

                “as a gay person myself I don’t see why that matters. Aren’t we more than our sexuality?”

                I couldn’t agree more.

                That’s one thing that really gets my goat about a large part of the LGBT community, their sexuality is literally their whole identity.

                I’m a woman who happens to be a lesbian. It’s not my whole being, it’s just a part of who I am, a fairly minor part at that. It doesn’t change who my friends are, my skills, talents, etc.

                If I’m reading a good book or watching a good move, I couldn’t care less what their sexuality is unless it’s actually relevant to the story being told.

            • mulebox

              Have you forgotten that Dumbledore was gay!?

          • Brockland A.T.

            Rowling spoke out against Scottish independence, despite being a practicing Christian and Anglican convert to the Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland’s official position on independence was neutrality, the Scottish independence movement, a reaction against English imperialism and imposition of the English culture and Crown upon their people and lands.

            Rowling joined a faction of pro-Israel British cultural luminaries and spoke against the peaceful Boycot, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which opposes Israeli colonialism against Palestinians. Israeli actions mirror Western European colonization and dispossession of North American Aboriginal nations.

            Her proven ‘compassionate credentials’ suggest, J.K. Rowling is not someone Aboriginal Peoples, whether in North America or elsewhere, should let anywhere near their sacred culture and artifacts of stories, rituals, customs and myths.

        • jak

          They have a right to complain all they want, but it doesn’t mean their complaints are valid or sane.

          • Stasmo

            I’m open to the possibility that the concerns raise have some validity (to an extent) and that Rowling could possibly have gone about things differently (though, what, exactly, I’m not sure)… but no need to go on a crusade and put a bullseye on her. Rowling’s a great person and they are just thirsty for blood!

      • Brockland A.T.

        Rowling specifically excluded Wicca and Wiccans as incompatible with the Potterverse, citing differences in magical systems.

        Most Wiccans are quite happy with this exclusion and aren’t raising any fuss at all. Informed Aboriginal North Americans would like that Rowling granted them, similar courtesy and not misrepresent their culture.

        • Angel

          I would like for you to point out exactly what it was that she misrepresented.

          • Brockland A.T.

            Rowling claimed the right to invoke the Aboriginal skinwalker in the service of European imperialist culture. She doesn’t have that right.

            That is a serious misrepresentation and the core one.

            If you’re fishing for the technical details of Aboriginal skinwalking by nation or just a specific nation, I’m not the one to ask; you’ll have to try and extort someone else.

            However, in the language of art, its wholly appropriate that invoking the skinwalker be the catalyst for calling out J.K. Rowling’s racist Christian sense of entitlement towards identity politics.

            Agents of whiteness have no right to shapeshift into any ethnic identity they want. Its an offense to any person of good conscience, moreso the better informed the conscience.

            • Angel

              In what way is that offensive? Because she used mythology from an indigenous people in her work? How is that a service or representation to European imperialism?

              • Brockland A.T.

                Imperialism; look it up.

                Its taking with malice and perfidy, the benefits of land, labour, knowledge and people, sources of wealth and power, of countries and nations not your own. This would include cultural resources.

                If malicious intent isn’t offensive, then what is. Although those accustomed to giving grief are less likely to feel offended.

                Why is there is that sense I’m writing someone else’s term paper…

    • Mixelle

      Why didn’t she first talk to the people she wanted to write about? Contact tribes and get their input and permission?

      • George Jetson

        Because she doesn’t have to. It’s her fictionalized story. She can do with it as she pleases. If she had to write a book by committee, can you imagine what that would be like? Basically, it would stink.

        • Beeble

          The makers of The Prince of Egypt (1998) consulted hundreds of religious scholars and no one considers it to be written by committee or if they do it doesn’t detract anything from it. If anything, it adds to its rich cinematography. The directors recognized that they should get as many educated eyes from involved cultures and religions on the story to get a well rounded research base. How is this any different? You realize also that JK Rowling is a British person, and the history between British Imperialism and Native American cultures is not a great one. It would have been the least bit of respect and kindness she could have offered to ask for consent and consultation.

          • Shari Cortes

            The Makers – plural – this is one fictional story writer!

          • jak

            Doesn’t matter. That’s a personal choice.

            • Wonder

              So bcause it’s a personal creative choice it’s beyond critique?
              What a silly notion.

              • Julio Weigend

                Only about as silly as saying that Native stories cannot be used as fodder for creative work. You do not get to decide that; no one does. No culture or religion in the world is exempt from this. Critique as you will, but know that you have no right no silence anyone.

                • Wonder

                  criticism =/= silencing, but thanks for playing.

              • jak

                It’s beyond logical critique. If you are insane of course you can critique a fictional world.

                • Wonder

                  So, all literary criticism is out of bounds? Or only that with which you disagree?
                  Again, utter nonsense.

          • Sleazy Boat on the Bayou

            The Prince of Egypt was banned in two countries because of religious scholars.

            • Jasmine

              The Maldives and Malaysia banned the Prince of Egypt because Islamic scholars believe that depictions of the Prophets and God are forbidden in Islam. That said, the actual events portrayed in the film are representative of what all three Abrahamic religions claim.

          • TheDoc

            A movie, by definition, is created by a committee. Rarely is there a single writer who is also directing, photographing, acting, and researching the same movie. That’s how this is different. Perhaps Rowling should have researched and sought to learn from Native People, but she still is a novelist whose works are generally NOT collaborations (the way films are).

        • Tapati McDaniels

          Think about how sci fi shows use scientists as consultants and medical shows use doctors, cop shows use cops, etc. Research often involves talking to experts in various fields before you start writing.

          • jak

            And yet, somehow, plenty of fiction has been written that ignores reality and yet is successful.

          • Sleazy Boat on the Bayou

            Presumably that’s why fictional hacking, forensics, detecting, surgery etc usually looks so sexy and exciting, because it’s so true to life.

          • seira

            Not all shows do that you know, consult I mean.

        • Gabriel Feycat Cuellar

          That’s a really ridiculous attitude. Look, authors do research. They just do. If you want to know how many miles per day a forced march is, if you want to know what kind of bullets a certain gun uses, if you want to find out if Meijer stores appear in Indiana, you research that. If you need to know how diabetes works, you research that. If you need to know how adoption works, you research that. Authors spend a LOT of time in research (trust me, I have piles and piles of it all over my desk.)

          Check out the acknowledgements in the back of most books – you will see researchers, librarians, and other experts being thanked for their input and time.

          Can you imagine a book set in the real world that doesn’t do ANY research into how things outside their own sphere works? Basically, it would stink.

          To not apply that same standard to something as important as an entire set of cultures? That’s crazy.

          • wiserd911

            When Keene writes;

            “What did I decide? That you don’t need to know. It’s not for you to know. I am performing a refusal.”

            A. That passage was pointless.
            B. Keene is actively opposed to such research and the commonality of Keene’s view makes such opposition effective.

            • seira

              Well then she can’t exactly complain can she?If you’re not going to allow someone to do research then you’re going to have to make peace with the fact that misrepresentation will occur simply because of ignorance. It’s something that can’t be helped.

              • Rachel

                She was talking about the skinwalker tradition in particular, not everything about Native cultures. That means that whatever traditions they have surrounding skinwalkers are sacred and they don’t want non-natives utilizing them for public entertainment…which is perfectly valid.
                She’s not saying “don’t ask questions”, she’s saying “this particular aspect is private, please respect it and use something else”.
                And she’s got a point. In this day and age we’re so use to information being readily available, that we forget that we DON’T have an inherent right to ALL information.

                And frankly, if I’d had to defend and explain my marginalized culture OVER and OVER and OVER to members of the dominate culture the way Dr. Keene has, I would occasionally want to throw up my hands and just say “No! Leave it alone!” too.

                • seira

                  Do Skinwalkers even exist? They’re just social construct much like all traditions and religions.

                  • stoplyin2217

                    If she wanted to include fictional native American wizards in her book, then she should have fictionalized their magic too. She will now be the one who defines these practices for a global audience who will see them only in the context of “wizardry.”

                    • seira

                      You see people know how to differentiate between FACT and FICTION. If anyone’s truly interested then they will take the time and effort to learn about their real practices. WHY is everyone forgetting that? -_-

                    • stoplyin2217

                      When people read a book of fiction they tend to think that everything in it is fiction too. What if she took Christian religious practices such as baptism, communion, confession, and beliefs such as the virgin conception and Jesus rising from the dead and depicted them as wizardry on par with the fictional wizardry of her English characters?

                • seira

                  And frankly I don’t care anymore. This whole brouhaha is just stupid. When people worry more about what people write, what hairstyles they wear, call infants racist , it’s obvious that there’s something wrong with their psychology. And America and Canada are seriously messed up countries.

                  And I’m sure that most people have the ability to differentiate between FACT And FICTION. And any person with an iota of humanity will see them as people first and talk about culture later.

                • Lesley Donaldson

                  Quote Rachel: “And she’s got a point. In this day and age we’re so use to information being readily available, that we forget that we DON’T have an inherent right to ALL information.”

                  I love this comment. Thank you.

                • seira

                  Wow….so culture comes before seeing other people as people right. We’re( almost )all the same at the end of the day. So I really applaud those who put culture first, it’s so brilliant of them.

                • Andre

                  But where will this “it’s not for you to know” get you? Not to mention that it sounds like “you have to respect our culture and history because we are the minority but we don’t have to respect yours!” What the author just lumps together as “white people” as is typical for an American, did not have a very good history with secrecy and religion. Which is something she does not seem to respect either.
                  And like I wrote: Where will it get you? What does she think will happen with such constant secrecy in the face of curiosity. She wants people to respect other cultures but on the same page is for censorship and advocating for the same concept that got us into this mess. What does she think what sort of people the invaders were? Greedy atheists?
                  I can respect her opinions only so far, because I think alot of what she states will not lead to what she wants. Rather the opposite.

        • ericphillips

          I agree. Rowling chose what to write and how to write. Having some kind of “writing committee” approving of fiction is not possible nor wanted. However, people have a right to criticize it, let the author know of the problems with it. That is how a free society works.

        • kivo

          I realise this might come as something of a surprise, but professional writers have a RESPONSIBILITY to portray things accurately and with research. Whether they’re writing in a purely academic or fictional capacity is beside the point—they do research because it makes the final product BETTER, not worse.

          • Tecumseh SantaAnna

            No, they don’t. They have a responsibility to portray things consistently, not realistically. Blind Spot, House, The Closer, Major Crimes, are not remotely realistic. They’re just believable because they’re consistent.

            • kivo

              Yeah, you’re soooo right. That’s why literally every author, screenwriter, etc., you meet will tell you that research was a vital part of the writing process. Do you take liberties? Sure, when the material is too dull for the average viewer’s teeny weeny attention span (e.g. House, Major Crimes, every other procedural ever made and that you mentioned), but you still base it on RESEARCH and don’t alter FACTS or rewrite history so as to fit your easy peasy world of sunshine and rainbows. Tough to grasp, I’m sure. Worldbuilding isn’t done for the lulz, it’s done with serious intent of which there was none here. Rowling was lazy and sloppy; jobs aren’t the same thing as an entire race of people. :)

              • Tecumseh SantaAnna

                “You don’t have a responsibility to be realistic” is not a defense of JK Rowling, it is literally, “You do not have a responsibility to be realistic.” I suggest that you calm down and stop being so condescending. I’m trying to help you.

                In order for you to better argue with people about your thoughts on J.K. Rowling, you need to accept the fact that whether or not an author has a responsibility to be realistic has NOTHING to do with whether or not the work is disrespectful. Because of this, you cannot effectively explain to the unconvinced that J.K. Rowling’s work was disrespectful and wrong by using the logical fallacy that she has a ‘responsibility’ to be realistic.

                I’m not trying to convince you that you should change your mind about JK Rowling. I am literally saying a that you don’t have a responsibility to be realistic. You have a responsibility to be believable. Being sufficiently unrealistic can break immersion and be not-believable, and this is why research is necessary, but understand that realism is subordinate to immersion and suspension of disbelief. This is why Thunderheart is one hell of a movie despite being unrealistic by having magic in it.

                Being rude is one thing, but being rude while simultaneously missing the point is just devaluing the merit behind the idea that JK Rowling’s work is a disservice that should not be read. If this is normal for you, I cringe at the thought of how many people that you have failed to help understand the nature of cultural appropriation and social injustice, simply in the name of your own, selfish, personal pride.

      • Because she doesn’t need to, and shouldn’t have too. Do you think J.K. consulted historical scholars from each country and culture when she wrote the Harry Potter series to begin with? No, and why should there be a double standard. J.K. is allowed to use all sorts of different cultural mythology, and history, well, as long as it isn’t Native American. She has to jump through hoops for that.

        • Mixelle

          Did each of those countries and cultures suffer attempted genocide by the United States government? People murdered, religion outlawed, land stolen???

          • maryj59

            Not the U.S. government, but some of these cultures had land stolen and people murdered by the British crown. Ireland, India, other parts of Asia and parts of Africa. It’s my contention that Rowling also deals in stereotypes when writing about these cultures.

          • She mentioned African wizards in passing during Goblet of Fire. She has now mentioned Native American wizards in passing during this writing. So I assume that you’ll be demanding a full apology and a series of short stories about colonial wizard powers in Africa.

            • Mixelle

              There are NO ‘Native American wizards’, and NO basis for the concept.

              ” we’re not magical creatures, we’re contemporary peoples who are still
              here, and still practice our spiritual traditions, traditions that are
              not akin to a completely imaginary wizarding world” – Dr. Keene

              • Again, I have to ask whether you’ve even read the books, much less the recent writings. She specifically stated that there were Native American wizards. That is because Rowling writes about a fictional world where magic is real.

                Jesus, this is like trying to explain hobbits to someone who wants to insist that J.R.R. Tolkien hated short people.

                • Mixelle

                  Dr. Keene writes about reality.

                  • Like the “reality” of shape-shifters?

                    • Deb Krol

                      Actually, Native peoples in the Southwest do believe that to be the case. We’re not from the Southwest…in any case, I’m now sooo glad that our California Indian tribes went unnoticed by Hollywood and the New Agers or we would have the exact same problem, people trying to make a buck off our culture. Gah.

                • Penny Halloway

                  Except HOBBITS ARE NOT REAL. THEY DO NOT EXIST.

              • Riku Buholzer

                Having native wizards is probably the best thing that could happen to the native community. They are losing their culture and languages as time goes on because they are utterly irrelevant in the eyes of most people and a non-thought to say, Asians or other countries that don’t even know they exist. Natives are so unknown the molson canadian fridge where you say “I am canadian” in whatever language could understand Korean, Spanish, Hindi and al the popular languages, but the people at google couldn’t program Cree or Cherokee into it because those languages just aren’t around enough.

                It doesn’t matter if it’s accurate or written by a Non native, or if she got permission from some random Native person(s) as it’s not trying to even be a factual depiction and it’s fiction that doesn’t need to fit a bill. Also it’s much more easy to get into for those that don’t already know the culture. There’s no mention of talking cats in Britain, but Hello Kitty is supposed to be British and is made by a Japanese person, which does wonders for the promotion of Britain there. Are you going to call appropriation for that? Natives will probably be learning Chinese by 2040 more likely than anyone will try to learn anything about Native culture if they stop any spread of their image.

                • Deb Krol

                  What??? [head swivels] You’re saying that our cultures are declining so it’s ok to make stuff up about us??? Oy vey.

                  • Riku Buholzer

                    Incorrect, I’m saying the cultures and languages are disappearing, yes, as it is a fact there aren’t many people fluent in many languages and the population is smaller and less visible than others therefore it has a small and demographic power. As for why its okay to “make stuff up”, that is pretty easy – it is because of artistic license. The book presents itself as a work of fiction to specifically avoid confusion, and because “making stuff up” is an acceptable thing in almost every art form made by non whites in video games featuring other races (fighting games are a good example), and in cartoons.

                    One major concern I have is the double and conflicting wants of no mis-representation, but also the want for people to respect and stay out of Native culture because it’s too sacred to teach to people, which obviously create the impasse where you either will be misunderstood or you have to come out publicly with the truth unashamedly.

                    Another thing about why it’s totally okay to “make stuff up”- I mentioned “Magi: The labyrinth of magic” before because it’s essentially the same thing: A Japanese author named Shinobu Otaka writes an ” alternate recreation of the ancient Old World with several regions and nations having some resemblances with real-life counterparts from that time” (wikipedia), basically Arabia, where the characters Alladin, Alibaba, and Morigian from Arab folklore fight wizard battles in a magical setting. The author is not Arab, nor do I believe she consulted the Arab sources to see if Alladin really was a small blue-haired kid who can fly on a magic carpet and summon sand goliaths or not. It fits absolutely every bill of what people would call appropriation, but is adored by fans and not called out, while practically the *exact* same premise is used by JK Rowling and she is deprived of the same artistic license. The only difference seems to be that there is less of a standard to follow for non-whites taking outside sources for their work.

                    In fact, there is even a game featuring Native Americans called “Shadow Hearts 3: From the new world” which depicts Native Americans including the heroine who is blonde and can transform into monsters because of magic tattoos. It went through just fine with no complaints, no one thought that it was ever supposed to be an accurate depiction, it carries all the features of what you might call “appropriation” but hey, at least a White person didn’t make it so the standards don’t have to be the same.

                    • Deb Krol

                      Really?? You’re absolutely sure that our cultures are declining???? This reminds me of the time that we had a national Native journalism conference in San Diego. I took three of my Plains Indian friends up to a tribal summer solstice celebration, knowledge of the cosmos and the cycle of the earth around the sun being important to our agriculture, the ceremonial cycles and other aspects. Like you, they believed that California Indian culture had deteriorated to the point where we only had blood, not culture. Boy were they surprised!!! They were surprised to the point that all three of them went home and wrote about how our communities were still culturally strong. You see, in California, we had to take our cultural practices underground for more than a century to avoid being slaughtered by the new American masters who truly only believed the the only good Indian was a dead one – even Peter Burnett, the first U.S. California governors gave his inaugural speech about the ‘necessity’ to wipe all Indians away from California soil to cleanse the way for the advent of ‘civilized’ white culture – you can read it here:

                      So everybody then thought that we were extinct or at least, thoroughly assimilated. You might want to take a bit of time and read about it, it’s in several books and even the inaugural speech is on the web. Yes, languages are endangered, but our cultures are adapting to the language loss, and believe it or not, some of the smallest tribes are actually more fluent in their ancestral language than larger ones. So if I were you, I’d do a bit more research before I started writing that our cultures are deteriorating…just saying.

                    • Riku Buholzer

                      I’m happy to hear that! I’m glad that not everywhere is disappearing.My trips to ceremonies always were abysmal in how small interest from outside was. I knew about the hiding of the culture from a long time ago and the reason, and residential schools and about the genocide. Had to sit through all about Cortes and residential schools. And indeed, I know there is here in Vancouver a lot of work being done to try to improve the situation but the fact that it needs to be improved is alarming. People here don’t much know what a Native person even is or does, or they think they’re drunks or something.

                      Happy to hear that its vibrant in some places as I’ve heard my mom goes off on workshops to learn how to do medicine work so I know there’s still stuff going on. Still not convinced it’s enough to stop a coming demographic change in 40 or so years though. And also still not convinced that there is any justification on the old notion that it needs to be kept in the dark.

                    • “People here don’t much know what a Native person even is or does” And JK Rowling’s recent writings don’t really do anything to help educate people on “what a Native person even is or does,” so your assertion that her writing about them is good for them is false.

                    • Riku Buholzer

                      A fair rebuttal of my comment. If it ends with Jk Rowling then indeed no real knowledge is gained. I would hope it’s a good entry point for people who would otherwise never have the thought to learn. I wouldn’t want her to actually try to teach people.

                    • Brockland A.T.

                      Your family joined a ‘real’ Aboriginal tribe or nation. They didn’t join a make believe re-enactment group.

                      Although, I’m not sure if you’re saying they were amorphous South American aboriginals who joined amorphous North American Indians rather survivors of a specific national or tribal identity merging with another specific tribal national identity. For example, the culturally sovereign but defeated Tuscarora of North Carolina joined the Ganonsyoni (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy) in 1720.

                      If you are making the former statement, erasing a sense of identity and replacing it with a broad but empty geographic placeholder, then you are expressing what aboriginal cultural survivors fear most, total loss of cultural memory, and what appears to be hostile adoption of whiteness in its stead.

                    • Brockland A.T.

                      Once Upon A Time in China and America wasn’t the best movie of the Jet Li series and got a lot wrong, and embracing the Western media stereotype of the pan-Amerindian was cheesy and lazy. The Chinese were unwittingly in collusion-lite with culture war against native Americans and themselves, perpetuating a not-necessarily-flattering Aboriginal stereotypes and copying its use in a fantasy narrative.

                      Ironically, Wong Fei Hong was not only a real person, but a folk hero and globally, something of an anti-imperialist icon whose utility as inspiration for Aboriginals may have been dinged a bit. So lets not say making stuff up does no harm to some minority groups.

                      Blonde hair is not a common feature of North American Indians; why was Shania blond? To make her more approachable and acceptable for chauvanistic white demographics or ‘artistic license’?

                      The Japanese are strongly influenced by Western imperialism, and were enthusiastic early adopters of western imperialist style, particularly against China and SE Asia. They even had their own R2P doctrine, to free Asia of Western imperialism and replace it with their own. The use of the Japanese imperialist pawn by American imperialists has been documented by historians.

                      Middle Eastern cultures are sovereign players in the paradigm of culture war; Aboriginals are not. There is no indigenous standard of ‘quality control’ by nation or as an aggregate, and when a representative of the small pool of natural agents capable of quality control speak out, they are attacked for not playing a game they want no part of the way the dominant white Western culture wants.

                • Brockland A.T.

                  What’s wrong with learning Chinese? How do any of the Amerindian cultures not benefit from learning in good faith, another culture or language? Looks like a sinophobic comment.

                  The whiteness of Rowling’s supporters seems readily apparent right down to sharing the same xenophobic threats.

                • Rachel

                  The way to preserve Native American cultures isn’t to make up stuff about them, it’s to preserve the real traditions.

              • Andrew

                There are a lot of parts of Rowling’s writings that either generalize or take myth and lore at face value for her to put her own spin on. Take the entire genre of her books series.

                As Dr. Keene says, no Native American tribe are magical creatures (nor is Rowling trying to assume such a thing anything more than any other) nor is she saying they still do not practice such traditions.

                Just the same as any pagan or practicing witch or wizard now. These beliefs are held by many throughout the world to this very day and, as far as all the pagan friends I have, they do not see it as dismissive or negative to them. Everything Rowling writes about is not to be taken as strictly historical or firmly planted in reality. Not even the representation of her main characters in her book.

                Not to say you are not allowed or unjustified to feel that was because you totally are. Just providing a basis for how her story writing goes.

                • Brockland A.T.

                  Except, neopaganism is of remnant cultures destroyed by Christianity, reused in popular culture to reinforce Christian cultural dominance. J.K. Rowling’s story writing follow a cyclical pattern of Christian cultural borrowing without honest citation, of conquered faiths to renew itself.

                  J.K. Rowling is a Christian, born Anglican and converted to the Church of Scotland. Her books a parody of pagan journey by trial in support of Christianity, not an expression of pagan journey by trial in support of neo-paganism. Paganism apparently retains qualities Christianity cannot directly embrace, either as a dumping ground for impulses to vice or reservoir of spiritual meaning Christianity cannot translate and assimilate.

                  Next up, the Western myth of the ‘noble savage’. The survivors of Zeus, Odin, and Elatha are all racially white. Some sects claim to be universal, at least in principle, others, pointedly racist and supremacist. The permitted popular aesthetic is cool and respected as long as it serves the dominant Christian culture. Surrender and collusion are not immediately apparent, seen as such, or broadly rejected even if identified, because it feels good.

                  Aboriginal North Americans are not white and not generally respected as human beings by the dominant Western Christian culture. At risk of offending, and borrowing the Western pan-Amerindian construct, real aboriginals are that part of the socio-cultural totem pole stuck in the ground and left to rot even as every tier above has benefited from the not-entirely-voluntary sacrifice.

                  The parody of Aboriginal chic may satisfy some deep-seated need in the Western psyche, but marching another quasi-Roman triumph of MacIndians under the arch of Judeo-Christianity does not appeal to some Aboriginals or objective cultural observers.

              • So, you haven’t read Harry Potter? Because lets face it. J.K.’s fictional world is where X percent of humanity has magical powers,and those people are considered to be wizards & witches. J.K. Rowling decided to included Native American’s in her fictional world. Wow, inclusion sure bites. Taking attributes that could be implied as “magic” and adding them to her world, not so far fetched. Guess what, Americans, British, Irish, Egyptians, Bulgarians are some magical people or creatures to but she adapted mythology too just like Native American mythology (spiritualism/religion). Native American spiritualism is just like Christianity. They are formed on faith. I get it that one can be touchy about ones spiritual belief and values, but at the same time we need to look at the larger picture.

              • Jack2211

                There are no non-Native American wizards either. I suppose there’s a basis for that concept in folklore (although Rowling picks and chooses all sorts of elements of folklore — and changes/mashes up all sorts of things to suit her world). I do understand at least a little, I think, the argument here.

                She also, as far as I can tell, ignores religions and also picks and chooses from various spiritual traditions.

          • And that matters? No it doesn’t. Many cultures had really terrible events happen to them, but that doesn’t mean that writers can not incorporate parts of culture or history into their writings without jumping through loop holes. So, we shouldn’t have any Jewish imagery like golems.

            Also, the U.S. has nothing to do with this. Just because a government body did X, people shouldn’t do Y in art such as writing. That is kind of like censorship, and restrictive.

          • Brockland A.T.

            Here’s a list of attacked countries. The level of atrocity experienced may vary.


          • seira

            It’s much the same with India as well. British Colonizers stole not just land but also our spices etc , and they also murdered our people. Of course, we’re not marginalized but we suffered too. And there are still instances of racism and hate crime as well. Not to mention the fact that we’re called brownies and are told that we’re not creative.

            Anyway my point Europeans have a history of subjugating others who don’t conform to their views. So the fact that Jo misrepresented Native Americans isn’t that surprising.

            And I have a question, Dr.Keene :How would you integrate the cultures of Native Americans into a fantasy story? It’s an honest question, because I really am curious.

          • maryj59

            Oh, I want to clarify. First, I did find those earlier stereotypes offensive. It’s also lazy writing. Second, I’m in no way claiming that a writer should get to appropriate and misrepresent a myth from a LIVING religious/spiritual tradition!

        • This Is My Display Name

          “Do you think J.K. consulted historical scholars from each country and culture when she wrote the Harry Potter series to begin with?”

          More importantly: DID SHE CONSULT THE WIZARDS?!

          What’s that? …there are no wizards? She’s just making everything up?

          So King’s Cross Station doesn’t exist?

          …it does? So there’s a magical barrier that…There’s not?!?!

          Let me get this straight. She’s making stuff up about things that actually have a basis in fact? And has been doing it all along?!?!

          • Rodrigo

            I can’t believe you’re arguing about it. Look, someone pointed out the japanese school, for its name. I’m from Brazil, and Brazilian school means literally Wizardcastle. And no one complained.
            She also did took the Caipora myth from our Native communities, and no one said nothing.
            I had no idea of a single nothing of the culture of the Native North-American communities. Like, at all.

            I did saw some of the Twilight movies and I didn’t believe that you shape-shifted into wolves for protection.
            Reading J.K. Rowling’s new pieces, all I learned is that you do believe in a shape-shifter that you call skin-walkers, and that they were, in fact, a myth created because of the wizards that lived in North America at this time.
            If I only use two of my neurons to remove the magical aspect of this, all I know is that you have a legend of shape-shifters called skin walkers that I actually was interested in get to know my then I’m not because of all the “fuck if you want to learn more about us”.
            So MUCH fuzz about nothing.

            • Wait, what? There were a large number of complaints from Brazilian people online complaining about the “Castelobruxo” name. Don’t blatantly lie to make a bad point just because you personally didn’t care.

        • Ojy

          The difference is that in her previous books she didn’t really touch on things that happened in the real world. All of the narrative took place in the magic world. She was not talking about historical facts and was not rewriting history.

          • Except for the fact that Grindelwald’s rise to power and defeat directly corresponded with Hitler’s. And the chapter that actually involves the (unnamed) prime minister. And the whole book that has an undercurrent of international mistrust which has colored European interactions for centuries. And the repeated tongue-in-cheek references to the Dursleys’ political views.

            But yeah, aside from all the real-world stuff that she repeatedly mentioned, she totally never touched on it.

            • cactusren

              And those historical events she alludes to are things that British and American students all learn about in school. Thus, she can assume that the readers will have the background knowledge to notice the parallels between history and what is happening in her books. Now, how many British or American students learn about skin walkers in school? Suddenly, her readers are unlikely to understand the reference, and thus more likely to understand the entire passage as fiction. So yes, these things are different.

              • Or they’ll go read about what she’s talking about, since her brief allusion to it makes it clear that it’s an extant myth.

                But you’re right. As an author of books about wizards, her primary duty is to make sure that every ethnic group (but especially your specific ethnic group, whatever it may be) is treated in exactly the manner you wish it to be. That’s reasonable.

                • cactusren

                  Yes, when an author makes the conscious choice to write about a group of people, I expect them to do some research and treat those people with respect. Clearly you think that’s too a high bar, but I think it is the bare minimum of decency and courtesy.

                  • And in what way has Rowling not been respectful or done her research? She took a lesser-known cultural tradition and tied it in to her existing mythos.

                    • cactusren

                      And in doing so, explained that this (real) cultural/religious tradition was based on (fictional) wizards. Try to imagine the reactions Christians would have had if she had suggested that Jesus didn’t actually come back to life after being crucified, but that instead his corpse was animated for a time by a wizard, thus leading to the cultural tradition of thinking he was resurrected.

                      But of course she wouldn’t do that, because whatever Rowling’s religious views (I don’t happen to know what they are), she undoubtedly knows many people who are Christian. And therefore knows enough to realize that at least some of them would be offended by this. And that’s the real difference here: she knows so little about the culture she has chosen to write about that she is unable to determine what might be offensive.

                    • “And in doing so, explained that this (real) cultural/religious tradition was based on (fictional) wizards.”

                      As she has repeatedly throughout the series. Have you even read the books?

                      And yes, the narrative that you propose would certainly be less likely to be well-received, although I’d enjoy it if she made Jesus a particularly skilled wizard. However, I doubt that many Native Americans (regardless of how spiritual they are) are dumb enough to believe in real shape-shifters in this day and age. Implying that they are so credulous and uneducated is far more offensive to my mind than what Rowling has done.

                    • cactusren

                      Yup, I’ve read the books, though not repeatedly and not for a while now. Care to point me to relevant passages where she’s used similar explanations for other cultural beliefs?

                      I’d enjoy her writing Jesus as a wizard, too–but I realize that a lot of people wouldn’t. And if Rowling chose to do so, I can only assume she would know there would be backlash.

                      “However, I doubt that many Native Americans (regardless of how spiritual they are) are dumb enough to believe in real shape-shifters in this day and age.” Have you ever been on the internet? Plenty of white Americans believe in ghosts, bigfoot, shapeshifters, etc. without any cultural/religious significance behind it. I think they are wrong about those specific things, but calling people stupid for adhering to their cultural beliefs just makes you look like the bully in the situation. If that’s your agenda here, then I really have nothing left to say.

                    • The easiest one is the mockery of burning witches at the stake in The Prisoner of Azkaban. In her world, this practice is subjected to light ridicule, because real witches would, of course, could cast charms to avoid being burned. It totally ignores that this was a real and horrific practice. Clearly Rowling is a raging misogynist who tacitly approves of witch burning.

                      And yes, I find people of all varieties who believe in such nonsense to be stupid. It’s not “bullying” to call people out on believing in fairy tales. That’s cute when you’re five; not so much thirty years later.

                    • cactusren

                      That’s not analogous at all, though I’ll grant that Rowling glosses over the fact that, even in her fictional world, any muggles falsely accused of witchcraft would have died horrible deaths. But here, she is taking an actual historical occurrence and revising the interpretation of it within her fictional world (where witches and wizards survived using charms, and things were less grisly than the real world). In the case discussed in the OP, she is taking a current belief and saying it is based on fiction. I can’t think of anywhere else that she has done this.

                      “It’s not “bullying” to call people out on believing in fairy tales.” First, you didn’t refer to a specific belief as unfounded–you referred to people who believe it as “dumb”. There’s a difference between saying a specific thing someone believes is untrue (focusing on the argument) and calling the person dumb (focusing on the person)–what you did above was the latter. Secondly, when the particular belief you’re discussing is closely tied to the cultural heritage of people that have been marginalized, persecuted, and systematically killed, it’s a different situation than when some dood on the internet swears he saw bigfoot. You may view both beliefs as equally unfounded, but one carries with it the weight of historic and current marginalization. This isn’t about what beliefs you find acceptable, but about how we choose to interact with other people.

                    • So if I believe in unicorns (let’s just say it’s sacred), I get to be upset whenever someone rewrites the narrative of unicorns?

                    • cactusren

                      Yes, you “get to be upset” by whatever you want–I can’t dictate how you feel. And if you put forward a case for why it’s harmful to write about unicorns, I would listen and consider the merits of the argument. But we both know you don’t actually think unicorns are sacred–and here I will circle back around to the example of writing about Jesus (or other biblical figures) as wizards. That would seem to be the better analogue, as there are a substantial number of people who believe those stories to be true.

                    • Yes, and I find people who would be offended by different portrayals of those to be equally ridiculous.

            • I agree that she does touch on real life events, but sorry, Grindelwald corresponding with Hitler isn’t really an example of that. He was a fictional, magical counterpart to Hitler, but he wasn’t Hitler. If she had ACTUALLY written about Hitler and his role in World War II and how Wizards played a role in that, that would be an example of her writing about real life events.

              • And if skinwalkers were people who actually shape-shifted, then she’d also be writing about real-life events here. They weren’t/aren’t, so she isn’t.

          • You know that isn’t true. Right? What J.K Rowling did was take elements either historical, cultural, and/or religious to adapt into her fiction world, the HP universe.

            What we all need to do is look at historical context. She had quick hints of witch hunts in Europe to the so called “real” witches and wizards of history. Of course someone like Merlin wasn’t real, but there is real historical context that the Arthurian legend was based on.

            Paracelsus just like many other so-called real wizards were mentioned, but they were really good doctors of their time. Look at all the Greek mythology she used. At one point there were millions of people that had faith that it was real or some cultural variation.

            We are using words like “re-writing” history”. I would be up in arms too if it were a social studies text book, a non-fiction history text or even historical fiction (depends). However, one J.K. Rowling throws in a magical community. History has to be be “re-written” to work with her fictional world.

            • Brockland A.T.

              Aboriginal culture doesn’t belong to you as a Westerner the way King Arthur does.

              King Arthur ceded the old pagan ways to the new faith and defeated its champions. That was his whole schtick.

              You don’t have the moral right to re-write Aboriginal cultures to flatter your worldview and pretend to have the approval of that living culture, especially when you really, really don’t.

              • Moral right to use references from other countries. Of course she has the moral right.

                I don’t think J.K. Rowling is pretending to have the approval, or even flatter my worldview (I have no idea what you were even trying to get at when writing this). I think she was just referencing elements for her new fictional story.

                Also, what she writes or references is much deeper than King Author. You talk about living culture. Plenty of writers reference or use completely Christianity elements and concepts. Harry is pretty much Jesus. Christianity is a religion, a living religion, that is part of many living cultures.

                I am fine with the “outrage.” Go ahead get all angry that some referenced elements, and decided to include Native culture with everyone’s cultures. Go ahead. However, I really want you and everyone else to give a long thought about how you and other should not by hypocritical, and like fiction in general esp. fantasy for taking elements of various cultures that are not part of the direct author’s culture.

                • Brockland A.T.

                  The Christian evangelical right is characterized by its obsessive literal interpretation of the Bible. As such, they applied the literalist mind to the Potterverse, and correctly identified J.K. Rowling’s metaphorical exercise in service of Christianity as a threat, even if they recognized it as a Christian expression.

                  Some evangelicals have advocated the use of Harry Potter, due to its mass appeal, in missionary work to lead people to Christianity as to them, Harry Potter affirmed their Christianity. Others believe that’s too dangerously roundabout.

                  The literal interpretation of Rowling’s use of the ‘dead’ symbolism of a heathan past presents the possibility that someone will make the ‘mistake’ of reverting to the Old Faith of their particular Chistianized culture and discover positive truths about it.

                  However obscured and denied, pagan knowledge just by existing threatens Christianity’s lock as being the exclusive and only acceptable brand of divine knowledge. Some evangelicals would rather live with the emptiness, and may in fact sense none and demand that Christianity alone me made to work as all that’s needed. Whatever spiritual qualities paganism has to others, has no resonance to them, or if it does, is denied in the extreme.

                • Brockland A.T.

                  As for your contention of moral right, we may need to agree on a baseline of what morals and moral right actually are.

                  At a foundation level, it seems that morality is respect for the truth, respect for the proprietary (self, public or private ownership, including stewardship), respect for fair order and just law, respect for sophont dignity, and respect for life including quality of life. These virtues are the basis of universal morality at least insofar as they seem to be universal values recognized by most people and peoples. The human condition appears to excel from this ‘comfort zone’ of behavior that balances self and community interests.

                  Moral right, is the responsibility uphold with integrity and priority the minimum five virtues so listed. They are not a hierarchy. Respect for fair law and just order, for example, is appropriately in the middle in support of the attending virtues, defining and defined by them.

                  In simpler terms, the listed virtues would be, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t bully, and don’t murder. Some nuance is lost but clear emphasis gained. However, moral right in Abramic expression is at best only abstractly attached to raw virtue. ‘Belief in God’, or more accurately, adherence to doctrines of an Abramic religion, are arbitrarily defined foundations of moral right.

                  In that abstracted insensible sense of ‘moral right’, the evangelical imperative may permit Rowling to cite without due respect, cultural artifacts of ‘the other’, even in violation of pure virtue. Primacy of a specific system of religious doctrine, in spiritual or secular form, is seen as morality and having precedence over raw morality itself. Despite the proscriptions against stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting, at top of the list is belief that their interpretation of God is all that is owed fealty to and the point of everything else.

                  Not everyone accepts Abramic evangelical precedents for or against basic universal moral virtues as conferring moral right. In objective terms, the five virtues have priority of reference.

                  Under a code of pure virtue, Rowlings ‘reference’ to the Aboriginal skinwalker is not truthful. Informed living Aboriginals from which the aesthetic is sourced don’t see it as accurate in context or condone its use by Rowling and her fanatics. Again, there is a precedent by Rowling herself, the erasure of Wicca from the Potterverse as incompatible. Aborginal faithholders likewise see themselves as incompatible to the Potterverse and demand the same courtesy of exclusion from it.

                  Aboriginal bearers of skinwalker knowledge resent not being regarded as legitimate owners of their own cultural stuff, which should be self-evident. Rowling is not making an academic reference, she’s stealing as much of an artifact and its aesthetic as she can to authenticate her fiction.

                  The normal courtesy would be to back off but Rowling and her fanatics will not accept denial of gratification and come up with cheaty self-serving arguments in support of culture-raiding a source of non-universal meaning. ‘Artistic license’ may sound fair and high minded, but its a cheat; a fanfiction writer making a non-canon, not-for profit work has ‘artistic license’. Real artistic license in the entertainment industry is all about who gets what from intellectual property rights. The Potterverse is not spontaneous free art, its a licensed intellectual property.

                  Potterverse devils persist in greedy hostile behavior so far as to extort – bully – Aboriginal knowledge bearers to yield proprietary information so as to better present their lie of skinwalker. Or else, they will lie skinwalker anyway and lie again, that its the Aboriginal’s fault they had to lie and lack authenticity.

                  Countless Aboriginal people have been and are being murdered every day, physically and metaphorically for no other reason than being who they are or having something someone else wants.
                  Inevitably, skinwalker would join the litany of identity-destroying racial cultural supremacist taunts against Aboriginals, the same as the hey-ya-ya-ya catcall and other derogatory references.

                  If you disagree with this interpretation of moral right, then you are free to present your own for examination.

          • Jack2211

            So is the argument that this is irresponsible because it makes the reader forget genocide etc? Even with the caveat that it’s a fictional universe?

          • Brockland A.T.

            Pretending genocide didn’t willfully and unapologetically happen and traipsing about with its victims cultural aesthetic and artifacts as trophies isn’t rewriting history, its ritual celebration of that specific historical context as righteous, acceptable, and repeatable in the here-and-now.

      • Andrew

        Maybe she tried. Maybe she was told that, as an outsider, it wasn’t her place to know about any of it just as the author above mentions. And if that’s the case then what is she to do when speaking of the New World and it’s colonization? Leave all Native American tribes out?

        We have no idea what her writing process was in trying to explain these aspects. Did she contact anyone? Who did she contact? If no, what is she using as her basis? There’s a lot of questions here.

    • Brockland A.T.

      You’re better off not being a participant in certain cultures, especially shallow pop cultures such as the Potterverse, if your sense of self prioritizes inclusion and acceptance by any movement seeming to offer it, over mindful virtue and independent, informed moral agency.

      J.K. Rowling specifically excluded Wicca and Wiccans from the Potterverse because Wiccan magic and Potterverse magic were, in her words, “It’s [Wicca] a different concept of magic to the one laid out in the books, so I don’t really see how they can co-exist.”

      Wiccans everywhere are not only not offended at non-inclusion, if not erasure from the Potterverse, there is a palpable sense of good riddance. Not surprisingly, the living cultures of Aboriginal societies would like a similar courtesy granted. Demand it, even, as is their right and responsibility.

      Harry Potter has found great resonance in Judeo-Christian culture. This is only natural; J.K. Rowling is a Christian, born Anglican and converted to the Church of Scotland. The Potterverse is an expression of her personal journey of exploration of her Christianity, parodied in a kitbash of occultism and witchcraft.

      Apparently the remnant true faiths, or their aesthetic, hold meaning and appeal not assimilated or replicable in Christianity, whether constructed as a lightning rod for vice or recasting of deeper spiritual meaning as Christian.

      There seems to be a cyclical, generational drafting of pagan and heathen memes by popular Judeo-Christian culture, in renewal, support and glorification of itself. In some ways, this is like the old Roman triumphs, where the Romans would parade their defeated, shackled opponents in gilded chariots, a gesture that could be one or all of subjugation, humiliation, reconciliation and condemnation. It was, above all else, a demonstration of who had the power over life and death. In the paradigm of culture war, this is called ‘the narrative’.

      There are Aboriginals of North America that want out of the Potterverse. Its an informed and educated decision. They never asked for inclusion or consented to be drafted into the paradigm of culture war or to in any way participate in the glorification of their destroyers.

      All of good conscience and fair reason should support Aboriginal resistance to perfidy and pastiche hijacking of their religion and culture. Especially for a bad cause.

  • strega2012

    I’m not a Potter fan, and while it’s a shame I’m not really surprised if her “American” wizard world falls flat, especially after the new apparently lily-white movie that’s coming. It’s her world, and she can shape it however she wants, but I’m glad I let it go years ago.

  • CHWolfenbloode

    To be honest, after reading this and other objections to it, I can’t think of any way of her including Native American cultures into her story without it offending (or without being tokenistic; e.g. like with Cho Chang, et al.).

    People have suggested collabing with someone who knows the culture so that it somehow conforms to actual beliefs but then that doesn’t make it 100% her work and as she’s trying to create a different unique world whilst borrowing elements from existing lore and culture rather than use actual lore and culture unaltered. Having a Native American magic story that conforms 100% to the actual beliefs of the Native Americans as it is in the real world is surely not the modus operandi of her as a storyteller in her universe that she created. Then there are others that say it is a living tradition and that a huge chunk of its beliefs are strictly off limits to outsiders to depict or reimagine. She can’t win.

    As for this harming people’s understanding of the Native American cultures, time will tell. It depends on if people would take this on as fact of actual practice or see it as a fictionalised re-imaging. Based on the effects of the original stories towards the European community at least: witches were seen as bad ladies in pointy hats. I think it is safe to say that people don’t see witches like that anymore and have discovered (for those who made the effort at least) that there is a belief system called Wicca (and that real witches mount their brooms with the brush end pointing forwards from what I can remember).

    The whole subtext of misogyny is written all over her works anyway. Take for example the whole muggles v. wizards issue. And the fact that the MoM is corrupt to the core. To be honest, her universe is satirical as it is scary. That’s her universe where everything is flawed, even the main characters, even the perspective of its historians and book writers.

    Whether she has intentionally written this ‘history’ from a prejudiced-perspective (or a perspective of prejudice) or she genuinely is ignorant of these issues when writing this all down in good faith I do not know.

  • Sara

    Thanks for writing this. It’s important, so thank you.

  • There are so many issues with this (and your prior, somewhat contradictory post) that I literally don’t know where to begin. I think the best issue to focus on would be the skin-walkers, because that’s the most specific you (and Rowling) get, and it highlights the biggest weakness in your arguments.

    For starters, let’s bear in mind that you were pissed off that Rowling was daring to write about skin-walkers at all in your prior post. Now, you’re upset that she’s not going to treat their traditions as real magic (despite the fact that this isn’t what she’s doing, but we’ll get to that in a moment). Pick a damn side.

    A bigger problem presents itself in this sentence: “My own community also has shape-shifters, but I’m not delving into that either.”

    No. They. Don’t. Your community has myths about people performing rituals (magic) to change their shape (again, this is magical). You do not have actual shape-shifters. You just don’t. Trying to protect your mythology as somehow more special than other mythologies (remember that Rowling has already made veiled and not-so-veiled references to a number of pagan cultures and their magical implications in the series thus far) is a complete non-starter.

    But most importantly, your critique ignores the role of magic in this series. You treat Rowling’s hypothetical addressing of native traditions (remember, she hasn’t actually released any of the specific writings yet, so you’re arguing with a guess of what she’ll write) as inherently flawed because it “lowers” your traditions to the level of magic. In what way has magic ever been considered a low tradition in Rowling’s world? In what way has she ever treated the practice of magic with anything but the highest reverence? To ignore that because you hold on to the childish belief that your rituals are special because they’re totally real is utterly incomprehensible to me and demonstrates a total inability to see the world through another’s eyes, which is what you’re already accusing Ms. Rowling of. It’s a bad critique born of magical thinking, and not the good kind.

    • Jack Bieler

      I got that too. Rowling’s magic “rehabilitated” European legends based on pagan religious practices that were demonized by Christian culture. Extant (and reconstructed) Pagan magical traditions may find the same fault with her “Western” magic. The big gap is calling it fiction, which implies and requires a modern, scientific paradigm. It assumes that magical practices are “only” metaphorical or psychological.

    • Mixelle

      Please stop your insulting comments on this page. Rowling’s writing are made up, children’s FICTION. The magic in her stories does not exist. Native Indians are REAL people, with histories, religions and communities. They deserve respect!

      • Owlqueen

        All of the pagan cultures and mythology were REAL to the people who believed them in Europe too. Why is that different from using a Native American myth? Supernatural uses demons and angels which people today believe in. All of these fantasy stories use different types of myths as inspiration. Why can’t they use Native American myths if they also use myths from every other culture? That is pure hypocrisy.

        • Beeble

          Because we said these cultures and cultural entities are closed. It is highly disrespectful to insist on being able to do with them as you please when we explicitly said, “No, there is no consent.”

          • Is that the royal “we”? Who gets to declare a culture off-limits for discussion or depiction in literature?

        • Mixelle

          So europeans “transfigured” and “apparated”? Your opinion is delusional.

          • Of course they didn’t. Neither did Native Americans. But the author of this piece is claiming that shape-shifters are real only in the Native American cultures that embrace that mythology, even though such mythology is not unique to this continent.

      • Druids are/were also real. Witches are also real. Your assertion that Native Americans are somehow “more real” than that is both factually incorrect and logically incoherent.

        More importantly, you ignore my central argument regarding Rowling’s fiction: magic is accorded the highest respect and reverence in her world. To portray it as something “lesser” is to completely misinterpret the books.

      • KnightLite

        Please stop attempting to censure others. It is demeaning and completely betrays any moral position you have. The exchange of thoughts and ideas including those we don’t like is vital to our understanding of the world around us.

        Also, did you REALLY just say “Native Indians”? Are you from India? Can you speak anything of their culture or people? Please tell me you were referring to one of the diverse groups we often refer to as Native Americans as “Native Indians”. You’ve got to be kidding me! You take a moral high ground with something like THIS in your comment? Come on… If you don’t like what someone else has to say, that’s fine, but you don’t get to tell them they cannot say it.

        • Mixelle

          Ger Graves ·
          Manager at Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
          As a “native american” (although I prefer “american indian”) i think it’s awesome for J.K. to attempt this. As a reader of science
          fiction/fantasy these stories will be well worth checking out.

      • Angel

        So native Americans have real magical powers? You’re really implying that?

  • The Fourth

    How can you complain about people misappropriating your beliefs and legends while refusing to educate them? To say that “it’s not for you to know” while ranting that someone’s doing it wrong is extremely hypocritical. Someone claiming to have a doctorate in this feild shouldn’t be so narrow minded. Even your 3rd to last paragraph reads “woe is me” over the fact that people on social media are asking you legitimate questions about why you’re upset.

  • The Fourth

    Also, what would be more insulting for you option 1) a writer for a fantasy series adopts some of your beleifs or, 2) immigrant settlers from Europe bring all the magic with them and you’re completely ignored and (once again) marginalized beyond beleif? Or can we not talk about North America ever in this fantasy world?

  • Thom Prentice

    Good for you. More unvarnished, contemptible racist, fascist British colonialism

  • Polly

    From a First Nation’s perspective, I honestly enjoy the representation of Native American peoples in the magical world. Although, I do agree that there is no need to take a sacred belief and state that in the “magical world” it does not exist, even if it is simply fiction. The lack of wands I also feel is directly related to colonization and that one put me slightly on edge. I do believe the representation is important, even exciting for someone who is a huge Harry Potter fan, but what I believe this is at the moment is a lack of research and communication with Native American peoples on Rowling’s part, to really understand the problematic narratives she may be creating.

    • Gavinthomasscullion

      Speaking only on the wand issue, I actually took it to mean that since only the most powerful wizards could perform magic without wands, that the Native American peoples in question were stronger or more in tune with the powers themselves. Not that this is any more an accurate or original representation, of course, but maybe a more flattering one than the option presented in the article?

      • Peter Snell

        Also, the simple fact of the matter is that in reality wands really are largely a European concept (granted, it evolved from an Egyptian concept but that’s beside the point). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of any First Nation culture that had wands. With what she has the wands do in the books, it would be impossible for magical societies without wands to do the same kinds of spells. However, she did not say that wand magic is superior to wand less magic and that Europeans brought Native American wizards “up to par”. What she said is that charms and transfiguration were more challenging for them but they still were skilled and powerful, especially in potions and dealing with animals. One method is not superior to abother. One method is just easier than another.
        For example, the ancient Egyptians didn’t have the wheel until they were introduced to them by the Hyksos in the 2nd intermediate period. Does that mean that before then the Egyptians were uncivilized and incapable of transportation as impressive as the Asiatics. No, they got along fine without the wheel, it’s just that the wheel made the task of moving big things, which they could already do, easier and opened up new possibilites they didn’t have before, like chariots. It would have been the same thing for First Nation witches and wizards when introduced to the wand. They would have seen that with it they could perform the same level of magic without needing as much skill and training and it could open up new areas of spell work to them. Just because one culture has a tool another does not that makes a job easier, it does not mean that that culture is superior to the other, that was the mindset of the colonialists. Not every time one culture’s technology replaces another’s is it a case of a colonial power forcing itself onto a native people, sometimes it’s just the native people genuinely preferring theit technology out of convenience.

  • saint_91

    The only valid criticism is the widespread euphemistic use of explorer instead of colonizer. That’s a comment about the framing of real world history as pioneering exploration vs the genocide of millions, not just about fiction. How we perceive history does matter.

    As for the rest, it’s truly ludicrous stuff. As others have said, you can’t simultaneously attack people for ignorance while refusing to teach about something and adopting an insular stance – the contradiction cannot be overcome. Speculation is the natural consequence of esotericism.

    The religions and mythologies of many cultures were mined for inspiration in her work, not just Native American peoples. Countless other authors have done the same – it’s not automatically a denigration of those cultures unless it’s spun in a derogatory way. You reflexively choose to see these things as cultural appropriation, when the reality is that they are closer to cultural exchange and cultural inspiration instead.

    • Amanda Emily Smith

      Where is the exchange when Natives are saying there is none???

      • saint_91

        You honestly think there are no people of Native American heritage who write music using instruments of European origin? There’s so many examples of cultural exchange that you have to be in denial.

        • Amanda Emily Smith

          How can it be exchange if Europeans came here and destroyed literally 99% percent of the Native population??? Exchange implies mutual benefit. Where is the benefits for the Natives who have lost their land, much of their culture and most of their population and got a few instruments? Cultural exchange does not come out of the heinous oppression which Natives have faced.

          • Virilio

            1) Rowling did not destroy Native population. You are accusing her of something she never did.

            2) Europeans who colonized Americas are brits, spains, portugueses and french. I’m czech, thank you. Europeans are a lot of other people than 4 countries.

            3) The Romans colonized all Europe and much was lost of early european cultures. In a same way, in South America a lot of people were colonized, yes, but the native genetics are strong still, it’s the cultures that have vanished. I’m not excusing the europeans, but just demonstrating that colonialism was everywhere in those times. Genghis Khan colonized China, Arabs colonized north Africa, Bantus colonized large regions in sub-sahara Africa, and some pre-colonial groups in America were trying to genocide each other. I’m saying: the past was evil, yes. Everywhere. Maybe now if there are so many people attracted by appropriating native culture, it’s because there are finally interested, so why not do something about it?

            There are already navajo filmakers in festivals like Sundance. All we are talking about now is a big scale movie made for children depicting fantastic aspects of navajo religion/mythology. Of course it would have to feature navajo staff (including in the research and writing). Otherwise it would be very appropriative, what seems to be Rowling’s embarassment for now, but I don’t know the details about her research and who she consulted.

            In exchange you get… Well, the non-european-myth-based version of a Harry Potter-like film, I don’t know. Hopefully the main character could be other than a little british kid travelling to America. I just don’t see the pride point in NOT having your cultural myths represented in full scale 3D on film. There is even an iranian film trilogy about Muhammed made these days (the prophet you are not supposed to show). Everybody loves cinema!


        • Amanda Emily Smith

          Moreover, European pagans claim that Christianity took their holidays and rituals to incorporate them into their religion while simultaneously oppressing them even killing them. Is this cultural exchange to you? IF SO, you may want to realign your idea of exchange. This is not an exchange, this is just oppression.

    • Mixelle

      Research the history of genocide against indigenous people in the United States of America. It’s not ludicrous, it’s devastating.

      • saint_91

        Are you being deliberately obtuse? I addressed the genocide of Native Americans and said it was a valid criticism for Adrienne K to make.

        I said the rest of the stuff she talks about is ludicrous.

        • Beeble

          You can’t separate the history of genocide and its effects as still seen today from the Native cultures and beliefs that colonizers mocked and attempted to destroy. Get off your high horse and show proper respect when they say for outsiders to leave them alone.

        • Mixelle

          Are you really Kevin Spacey?

          • Angel

            You’ve really shown yourself to be an understanding mature adult.

  • JA Lowell

    Thank you for sharing this sensitive and eloquent treatment of Rowling’s colonialism and cultural appropriation. And thank you, for all you are suffering now on behalf of those of us to whom you’ve given voice. The twitterhordes are real, and they are violent. So thank you, for your strength.

    One thing that I noticed (and mentioned in my own –far more reactionary!– post about these reveals) is that in the Pottermore map of the school, she/her associates have placed a Cape buffalo in the Northern Rockies. Geographic idiocy aside (Cape buffalo are African), to me this smacks of another kind of cultural erasure: the plains bision was central to the entire way of life of many First Nations and Native American tribes. For Rowling et al. to make this kind of error is in line with her homogenization of hundreds of indigenous nations, i.e., “Any buffalo will do, just google something.”

  • Samara Draven

    A very thoughtful and informative piece. I hadn’t considered the erasure evident in lumping native tribes under the same label of “The Native Community”. I do understand what you mean by your refusal. It raises, what seems to me, an honest question: what would have been appropriate for Rowling to do? Should she not have written any mention of Native tribes at all? Would she not then be guilty of ignoring them entirely? Should she have done more research and written more accurately about them? Like any Potterhead, I’m excited there is more content. It just seems the only “correct” answer is that she shouldn’t have written it at all. I’d much prefer an honest portrayal or none at all than an incorrect one, however.

  • DreadfulKata

    I’ve said before that I find JK Rowling’s
    wizarding world aggravating because of it s failure to reconcile the ostensive
    morals and politics of the story with its genre/setting.

    JK Rowling created her world from the cloth of Mallory Towers, Greyfriars and
    Tom Brown’s Rugby. The genre of British school stories, and of course the
    actuality of British boarding schools, is steeped in classism and conservatism.
    To write a boarding school story is to write a conservative, even imperialistic
    story. This use of a boarding school framework for a story to set a story that
    aspires to liberal ideals is very well summed up by Bryan Philips (in an
    article that is actually about Star Trek!):

    “She took the aesthetic of
    old-fashioned English boarding-school life and placed it at the center of a
    narrative about political inclusiveness. You get to keep the scarves, the
    medieval dining hall, the verdant lawns, the sense of privilege (you’re a
    wizard, Harry), while not only losing the snobbery and racism but actually
    casting them as the villains of the series.

    “It’s the Slytherins
    and Death Eaters who have it in for mudbloods, not Harry and his friends,
    Hogwarts’ true heirs. The result of this, I would argue, is an absolutely
    bonkers subliminal reconfiguration of basically the entire cultural heritage of
    England. It’s as if Rowling reboots a 1,000-year-old national tradition into something
    that’s (a) totally unearned but (b) also way better than the original. Of
    course it electrified people.”

    Philips thinks Rowling makes a success of the endeavor (though the word
    ‘bonkers’ indicates some ambivalence) but I can’t agree.

    Whether JK Rowling’s liberal ideals or attachment to her cozy world would
    prevail hung in the balance until the series’ conclusion. At which point, she
    came down resoundingly on the side of cozy, rose-tinted conservatism Rowling
    was unwilling or unable to have her wizarding world change to support the political story she tried to
    tell. The series’ happy ending exists almost solely to demonstrate that the status
    quo prevails; nothing has changed in the wizarding world. Even the old house
    system, demonstrably divisive and unhelpful through the books, is preserved and

    This would have been a happy ending to the books had progressed in the tone of
    the Philosopher’s stone – light, slight, fun works with a touch of heavier
    menace thrown in. But Rowling tries to deepen her themes and world throughout
    without ever challenging its inherent problems. So she nods at the various issues
    at the very heart of this society within the narrative, indicating shades of
    grey within the side of the ‘good guys’. And yet when this morally grey side,
    who may in fact be guilty of many of the same attitudes that make the ‘bad
    guys’ ‘bad’ (though without their tendency to murder people), are granted an
    un-morally-grey victory that entirely undermines these moments completely. The
    system, which is demonstratively problematic, wins, and in the books closing
    scenes this is framed as a wholly good and uncomplicated happy ending. In the
    end, despite her gestures towards greying the morality of the books, the books
    comes down to good guys defeating the bad guys. If that’s a happy ending, and
    an end to matters, it means there never were any problems in the society that
    Voldemort wasn’t responsible for. His defeat means a happy return to the status

    So it doesn’t entirely surprise me that JK’s forays into expanding the
    wizarding world are pretty cringe-worthy where they’ve begun to touch on the real-world
    politics of oppression and colonialism. She’s not a conservative person
    politically, but her creation is in love with a conservative and reactionary
    aesthetic and JK Rowling never escaped the conservative baggage of her school-story
    genre so when she extends her gaze, it is inevitably through that lens.

    There may be a gloss of more modern thinking and a gloss of respect for
    cultural differences but essentially in the world as she has created it, it
    would by now be hugely out of step with that world to employ anything other
    than the framing of rose-tinted mid-century British imperialism.

    So, yes, of course in Harry-Potter-verse the Native Americans are a homogenous
    group, admirable in their way but in need of Western civilizing for their rough
    edges: the voice of the Harry-Potter-verse is, unfortunately, the voice of Tom

    • Paul Morton

      This, I think, is the bit I was missing about the whole world of Potter in general, so thank you for that.

    • Henriette Roggeman

      “It’s the Slytherins and Death Eaters who have it in for mudbloods, not Harry and his friends, Hogwarts’ true heirs.”

      This is incorrect. Voldemort was in fact a true heir of Slytherin, thus being what you could call a “Hogwarts true heir”. And as far as i can remember noone of Harry’s friends have any connection with any other Hogwarts founder. (Ravenclaw’s bloodline ended with her daughter’s death and Hufflepuff’s status is unknown)

    • Peter Snell

      Okay, first off, she didn’t make Hogwarts a boarding school because she loved how conservative they are, she did it because the plot demanded action at night and in-universe it makes sense for them to stay there when it’s located so far out of the way.
      Second, you imply that because the main characters have shades of grey, they immediately go back to embracing the status quo? Seriously? You think after the ministry played into Voldemort hands with denial, fear mongering, and propoganda and then went all in with the Holocaust that the new people in charge would not put in some major reforms. So we didn’t see it in the epilogue but that was to show that life for the trio went on, and it would have been super clunky to try to fit in every single reform and change that had happened since.

  • jmcnichols

    This post and others in this series have been massively educational for me. Thank you for taking the time to discuss these issues and explain it to outsiders and casual consumers of this type of narrative.

  • Neil Hennessy

    Hi Dr. Keene, long time listener, first time caller. If someone is interested in Native “magic”, perhaps a good book to suggest reading is Vine Deloria Jr.’s “The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men”

  • disqus_uTWuRoOybF

    I think your attitude about appropriation shows a gaping lack of knowledge and understanding about humanity and how culture develops and changes over time. All groups of humans from the very beginning of human history have a cultural exchange or conflict whenever they come in contact, unfortunately there is usually one side that comes out the victor, and one side that loses. Sadly, the losing group has typically been destroyed, or absorbed into the “winning” population. However, cultural exchange has not always resulted in total destruction of the smaller or weaker population, and has on occasion provided benefits to both groups. Humanity seems to just now be learning the value of differences in language and culture, but we have a long history of violence and destruction to overcome. Your hate-mongering and attacks on people who otherwise could bring a lot of positive attention to the issues you hold dear, is counterproductive, it paints you as mean, ignorant and narrow-minded, and closes the door to actual civil discussion and learning. Your claim that appropriation is wrong no matter what, would stall the exchange and development of all cultures everywhere. There are many modern amenities that many of us enjoy that did not come from our own cultures, there are many delicious foods, and beautiful clothing, or moving music, that have been, and should be shared for the enjoyment of all humanity. Again, I am not trying to belittle the suffering and destruction of any culture, it was and is wrong, but we must move forward and make things right without causing more division. You can bring attention to and preserve traditions without reinforcing the racist divides that bring so much conflict.

    • Mixelle

      You know who actually showed a “gaping lack of knowledge and understanding about humanity”? The europeans who raped and murdered the people they first encountered in what is now the USA.

      • Charles

        I absolutely agree. It was and is wrong and horrific, but humanity is growing and hopefully one day cultural exchange will occur only when wanted, and will always be mutually beneficial. Native American groups were not homogeneous with some groups sharing similar cultural attributes and some groups not sharing cultural attributes, they also warred with and killed each other. Europeans were not unique in this aspect, as it seems humans are generally prone to violence, however as we are learning and growing as a species we are moving away from our violent roots and gaining appreciation for cultural differences. We can’t erase the horrors of the past, but we can all do everything within our power to prevent them from occurring again. We can participate in cultural exchange that benefits and strengthens cultural traditions of others without detracting from our own. But by refusing to actually engage in discourse in a constructive manner, the author reverts to unwarranted and meaningless attacks about appropriation.

        • Mixelle

          Okay go straight to the nearest reservation and give the people there all your money and land.

          • Charles

            Clearly you aren’t reading my responses, or you aren’t understanding them.

          • Riku Buholzer

            Chinese investors own most of the area I’m in. And the money. Fun story: I witnessed an old Native man on the train with a walking cane flip out at all of the Asian people on the train and shouted “I don’t care how much stinking money you have… when you walk the streets of MY country, you’d better have some respect!” He said this looking dead at me while he said it, despite the train being full of mostly Chinese, while I was talking to my Japanese friend. He wasn’t mad at me for being white and displacing him, he was mad because I was speaking an Asian language, and so was everyone else on the train, and that aspect was displacing him.

          • Angel

            How about you go give all of your money to the nearest reservation since this is a topic your so passionate about.

      • Angel

        And what does that have to do with Harry Potter miss thang?

        • Mixelle

          It’s Ms., dude. Stop flirting I don’t like misogynists.

          • Angel

            How am I a misogynist?

  • worldwide_webster

    Except she didn’t say “The Native American community.” She said “The Native American MAGICAL community” — in the HP world, being a wizard takes precedence over being part of any other culture since being a wizard is rare. Obviously “Native Americans” are not a homogenous group any more than “Europeans” or “Africans” but I understood her to be speaking of a geographical locale (the Americas) and time period (before the European invasion).

    • Beeble

      With hundreds, probably thousands, of different cultures and languages spread across the American continents before European contact, excluding geographical barriers and distance, how is there supposed to be one “wizarding community” when no two cultures would be able to speak the same language. Native languages are so diverse that even dialects in the same language are different enough to be unintelligible. Is there some universal Wizard language that some how everyone in the world speaks that was left out of JKR’s writing? Nothing takes that kind of precedence over Native cultures.

      • Brian

        Europeans speak different languages and yet they came to develop an understanding of one another. In the wizarding world it always seemed that the members of magic were more advance in community building than muggles. Could not this be true for the Native American magical community?

      • “With hundreds, probably thousands, of different cultures and languages spread across the American continents before European contact…”

        Do you know anything about history? There were not “probably thousands” of different cultures in the Americas. There were maybe one or two hundred between North and South America, and that’s taking into account all the tiny pockets of isolated tribes that spin off from larger civilizations in South America.

      • keef

        “Native languages are so diverse that even dialects in the same language are different enough to be unintelligible”

        Which is true in other languages too. I could talk to you in my own English dialect (Geordie, from N/E England) and I can pretty much guarantee you’d be lucky to understand maybe every 5th word. Or maybe Glaswegian – another very heavy dialect that is impenetrable to some English speakers.

        Put two people together – 1 with a heavy Geordie dialect and the other with a heavy Cornish dialect and they would have great difficulty conversing.

        Heck, when I moved to London in my early 20s, I had to dramatically change how I spoke because 90% of people couldn’t understand me.

        “With hundreds, probably thousands, of different cultures and languages spread across the American continents before European contact, excluding geographical barriers and distance, how is there supposed to be one “wizarding community” when no two cultures would be able to speak the same language”

        Why couldn’t they speak the same language? If I visit Germany I am able to to speak German. If someone visits me here in the UK from China – there is nothing to stop them speaking English if they have learned it.

        It’s perfectly feasible for different cultures to have people that speak the languages of other cultures/communities – how else do you think trade & diplomacy was carried out for the past few thousands years across the globe?

        Your comment implies that Native American communities were so insular they wouldn’t even be able to communicate with their neighbours. If that was the case – they would have been incapable of trade or any other countess activities that involve communication outside their community. You do a disservice to the intelligence of the very communities you purport to defend.

  • Amanda Emily Smith

    Great article! Thank you for this thorough analysis of this.

  • Priya Sridhar

    Dr. Keene, if I may ask as a writer, what sort of sources or experts to use to avoid replicating this mistake, to know when we’ve overstepped our bounds and caused disrespect before potential publication?

    • Mixelle

      If you choose to write about a particular tribe, go to the people in that tribe and talk to them.

  • doubledipper99

    That’s it. I found it. This article is THE stupidest thing on the internet. Oh man, that loaded “The”….

    It’s almost like someone passed around the pipe too much and had all the tobacco go straight to their head and started dancing like they were going to make it rain or something.

  • epiphanomaly

    Thank you for writing about this! Harry Potter is near to my heart and I have a deep respect for JK Rowling in so many ways, but as soon as I saw that she was going to be writing about magic in North America I was immediately concerned, and when I read the first piece my stomach dropped with the disappointment of confirmation. Yet another white author writing white fantasies about real cultures they know nothing about but perceive as exotic–deeply saddened she went there. I hope to read more perspectives from First Peoples/Native American communities, although it’s too much to hope at this point that Rowling can do much to rectify the damage, as I expect her Dances With Wolves mythology will figure quite a bit in the new film…fait accompli.

  • George Jetson

    You know, this is a work of fiction, not of truth. To think that anyone takes anything in her books as truth is silly. It’s a fantasy world where she commands what’s in it and what isn’t. If she had to write this book by committee it would stink to high heaven.

    Don’t like it? Don’t read it. It’s not going to affect your, or anyone elses life either way. And if it does? Maybe you’re too sensitive.

    • Rachel

      But that’s just it….it DOES affect her life and the lives of other Native Americans….not in a direct way, perhaps, but if it continues to add to the perception of Native American tribes as various stereotypes, then yeah I can see the problem. I highly recommend going back and reading some of Dr. Keene’s other articles, she explains why feeding into stereotypes is a big problem, at length.

      And for the record, she is not being “too-sensitive”, she is voicing a perfectly legit concern in light of white people playing fast and loose with Native American cultures for centuries.

      • George Jetson

        You realize this is a work of fiction right? That means not real.

        This world has become one of hyper-sensitivity, likely because of the comfortable lifestyle most live. Humans need drama even if it means taking issue with works of fiction.

        I guess I’ll worry about starvation, homelessness, nuclear obliteration, global warming, and the cultural subjugation of women and will put you in charge of mundane things like attacking works of fantasy/fiction.

      • This Is My Display Name

        Anyone who thinks they’re reading anything true about Native peoples here is a moron.

        It’s fiction. Moreso, it’s obvious fiction written in a way that makes it obvious fiction.

        • Rachel

          Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s immune to critique an criticism. It’s a problem when there are so many bad fictional accounts of a group of people that the average layman has no framework for what those people are actually like.

      • Angel

        What exactly did she stereotype? Many of you say Rowling misrepresents native Americans but what exactly did she do? Or write?

        • Rachel

          Um….did you read the article? Dr. Keene highlighted the main sticking points. If you want more detail, try some of her older posts, as she has done many on the typical misrepresentations for Native Americans.

  • Charles

    “The response online today has been awful. My twitter mentions have been exploding non-stop all day, with the typical accusations of my oversensitivity and asking if I understand that Harry Potter is fictional, and more directed hate telling me my doctorate is being misused and I’m an idiot. In addition are the crew who “would love to know the real history” of these concepts (again, not for you to know), or are so grateful that JK Rowling is introducing them to these ideas for the first time. This is not the way to learn about or be introduced to contemporary and living Native cultures. Not at all.”

    Seriously, if you are typically receiving responses like this, maybe you should do a little introspection to see if there is any truth to the matter. You mock those who are ignorant, you mock those who “would love to know the real history” and say “not for you to know.” If that is your answer then you truly are wasting your time and talent with your education by refusing to use it to educate others. If “this is not the way to learn about..” then why don’t you use that education that makes you so much better than everyone else to show the correct way to do it. If only Native Americans are able to learn about Native American history, then you are wasting your breath even bringing it to the attention of others. If you will not offer suggestions, then you also should not criticize.

    • Liam Keptner

      Part of the problem here is that, at least among the Navajo, there are some things you just don’t talk about. Would you ridicule an Orthodox Jew for not saying the name of God? For some religions, words have power, and you take your life in your own hands if you forget that.
      As far as the rest of this debate is concerned, yes, it would be nice if Rowling had at least given a nod to the vast tapestry of Native beliefs here in the US.

      • Charles

        I would not ridicule any group of people for their beliefs. J.K. Rowling said nothing in ridicule. I agree that words do have power, but only over the people who believe them; I respect that within a religion or culture certain things are left unspoken, but I also respect that those who are outside of that cannot be held to the same standard. Does Ms. Rowling need to write an entire (completely accurate) history on all Native American people before she can write her stories about the fictional history of magic in North America? And how is she able to do that if “it is not for her to know”? If the author of the article is to make demands, then she should also provide instruction on how to go about fulfilling them.

  • Devin Arendt

    I didn’t realize that a fictional book had to coincide with non-fiction.

  • Travis Holley

    If you are going to do this, you really need to take on all of Hollywood first. I have watched at least THIRTY movies about “Skinwalkers” in one form or another. I have watched at least FIVE television shows that utilize the mythos. I have read TWENTY different NOVELS each containing “Skinwalkers” inside them and directly referencing Navajo and some were actually Scholarly and had bibliography notations of information garnered from PhD. holding Navajo that were called to consult and DID SO WILLINGLY. Sorry, you don’t speak for every Navajo and you REALLY need to get your facts straight and open your eyes to the wider world around you because “Skinwalkers” is one of the MOST abused myths in Hollywood… There is even a MOVIE titled “Skinwalkers”!!!!!!

  • Travis Holley

    And let’s not forget SCHOOL TEXTBOOKS talking about the mythos of “Skinwalkers” that you have left completely alone. I learned about “Skinwalkers” in U.S. History class in High School. Do your research like a real Doctor instead of just being reactionary and attention grabbing.

  • Travis Holley
  • Zoe Wang

    But that’s completely unfair, first you say that your stories are private and that you don’t intend to share them with anybody (which fair enough) but then you get annoyed when people get it wrong with what little idea of those stories are out there?

    Let’s be real here, it might have been better if she didn’t try to include native american stuff in her world building but people would be just as on her back about being non inclusive and white superiority and all that jazz.

    I do agree she’s written something disappointingly cliche, although not just for America but for all her magical schools out of Britain. She really should’ve attempted a lot more research than she has here because her lack of understanding and knowledge really shows (I was personally disappointed with the magical school in Japan that was literally named “magic place” in Japanese). However you can’t complain about her lack of knowledge and then turn around and say nope, I’m NEVER sharing knowledge about it. That’s not her fault and all I can really say is that at least she tried. This was a situation where she’d have been damned if she did and damned if she didn’t.

  • rachewl

    This is what happens when you give liberals a voice; I can’t believe your lamenting received national press. Why do you have to ruin a book? Why did you have to interject your comments and newsflash writing a fictional book isn’t an example of “colonialism” ‘ this sort of “exploitation” card is a joke and if anything it makes you look inferior and pathetic and secondly what gives you the right to speak on behalf of an entire group of people;millions; your views are your own as one person not the entire native american people and maybe you don’t know this, the many different tribes and heritages that exist.

    Did they elect you as their leader? As their spokesperson? No and the greatest threat to free speech comes from little worms like “dotor” Adrienne who waste the gift of speech and the right of freedom to lament the trivial. You are a worthless inferior piece of trash and I’m sure when you wake up every day that is a reality that your confronted with and your refusal to accept it is is manifested through the petty and silly way you live your life tearing down books and making silly claims.

    • Mixelle

      Why did Rowling have to ruin her books? They are so loved!

      • rachewl

        She is the author, she can write whatever she wants to write. The other thing and I have to admit this on my part, I have not read the book and I don’t think the author of this blog is or the crazies who are so upset about it (or the people responding to the crazies like me). It’s a fiction book, its make belief, its a book; what sort of world are we going to live in if even in imagination one cannot be free.

        • Mixelle

          No one is stopping her from writing; hell she will probably make another billion dollars.

  • hoppytoad79

    I was looking forward to her ‘Magic in N. America’ stories, but after reading this, I am totally “Do not want!”

    When I read the excerpts from ‘MoNA’ you provided, I was boggled by just how profoundly Rowling bollocksed over a continent’s worth of vibrant, amazing, fabulous, individual, unique Native American cultures. If it was British history that had been rodgered, there would be outrage and the author would be flayed for their ignorance and failure to research (and rightly so). Instead, a whole continent’s worth of cultures are erased and Native Americans are called oversensitive. Disgusting. When I read about the significance of skin-walkers in the Native American cultures they are a part of, I was furious (as much as someone who isn’t a part of one of those cultures and is ignorant of all that skin-walkers are and mean can be) that Rowling would, willy-nilly, write one single origin story, make it a negative one, and have absolutely no connection to any culture with skin-shifters. My heart broke as well, because I felt like her words will have ‘written over’ anything Native American cultures with a skin-walker tradition could ever say about their beliefs about skin-walkers; that fans of J.K. Rowling will read ‘MoNA’ and seek out those cultures and be ‘interested’, and everything they read/hear will be filtered through The Gospel According to J.K. Rowling. Or, they’ll hear out someone who will tell them the culture’s beliefs and them promptly inform them they’re wrong; that according to Rowling, *this* is the origin of skin-walkers, so get it straight and get it right.

    Rowling should be totally ashamed of herself for what she’s written. This should be taken down and totally re-written.

  • Pamela Freeman

    I’m a fantasy writer (for both children and adults). I’m white (originally, Irish heritage a long way back). I was born in and I live in Australia, but my books are set in a Northern Hemisphere/European biosphere. Why? Because the fantasy traditions I am writing in are European, and I am bloody well not going to cherry pick indigenous religion to tart up my stories so they smell ‘Australian’. This is a choice which faces white Australian fantasy writers all the time and in almost every case we have chosen to back the hell off stuff which is not ours. This land has lots of stories, but they are not our stories. It has lots of ‘magic’, but it is not our magic. This is an issue we live with and discuss frequently. Rowling should have known better.

  • Jeremy Schmitt

    This is actually the second time I’ve heard about a White writer including Skin Walkers in their story. The first was The Dresden Files. In “Turn Coat”, Harry has to defeat a Skin Walker. Unlike what Rowling has done here, Jim Butcher keeps the Skin Walker within its proper context of the Navajo religion.

    But then he elaborates it. He writes that the genuine Naaldlooshii (he spells it wrong) who taught the human Skin Walkers their power are semi-divine beings who refused the call to return home and became perverted and twisted.

    I guess that’s better than “The Skin Walkers are animagi”, but I don’t know how much better.

    Also, apparently if you talk about them too much their power grows. Which means Rowling’s movie is going to kill us all.

  • Mwatuangi

    “What did I decide? That you don’t need to know. It’s not for you to know. I am performing a refusal.”

    THIS! I have some Carib so I definitely am vibing with this.

  • Danny Brown

    I think people just like getting high and mighty over something that is a work of fiction. How many books have you lot written? Very few of you will have any idea of the work that goes into it, I’m sure she did her research, and regardless it’s all a bit of fun not meant to be taken seriously. The internet has given a voice to people who are just talking a load of crap. Of course it’s a distortion of mythology and beliefs, that’s what fiction writers do. To get all offended is taking things to the extreme, it’s all a bit of a laugh just take it as that. Plus it is for kids, come on!!

  • Shari Cortes

    IT IS A BOOK PEOPLE! I understand that History can get bent out of shape but also a magical school for kids, playing Quidditch, the platform 9 and 3/4, flying cars and bikes etc and you have no issue with this but NOW you do, now look its a story and yes it is for kids as you have mentioned BUT PLEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEE let the story writers write without being told they are not portraying the The North American Communities, The African Community, The Asian Communities, The European Communities,The South American Communities and whoever else properly, IT IS FICTION. I am the first to bring into light and support any corrections of NON FICTION til the cows come home but please just leave hte story tellers alone. Without them we lose the fantasy, the magic of reading and telling stories to kids. The world is a horrible place without them having to read about the true aspects of what happened in all these places at one time or another at a later date. Thank you ♥

    • Mixelle

      Absolute NO ONE is stopping Rowling from writing, publishing, and making millions from her books!

      • Angel

        So your hate against her is the fact that she had money and you don’t? Very mature of you. If I hated anyone because they had something I didn’t I would hate everybody.

        • Mixelle

          How can one little person stop an empire of books and movies? I’m glad you enjoy them, give her some more of your money :)

          • Angel

            Yes I will continue to use my right to exchange my hard earned money for her services so that she can in turn use that money for various charities.

  • Dora Tonksová

    I can’t say who is right, since I know as little about Americans and their culture as Rowling, so the only thing I’ll say is my comment about wandless magic – I didn’t get the idea that wands were bringing them to a new level. I got the idea that by using magic wandless, they were more powerful than European wizards. Of course, the start seemed wrong to me too, and the whole piece is just… I don’t know, weak. I didn’t get any image out of it, I didn’t get the whole picture, it was very in medias rest and too brief to explore anything. I am sorry she disturbed something that was meant to be left alone, and I hope she will see she made a mistake and fix it, or apologize.

    • Paul Morton

      “Wandless” may have been intended as a counterpoint to the “black people are physical, white people are intellectual” bollocks that we still see in works of fantasy such as Skyrim, however to some extent it also suggests is that Africa, despite having a “thousand year old wizard school” did no research on refining magic, and only adopted “refinements” from the Europeans in the last hundred years. It’s just quite hard to accept the claim that Europeans discovered wands considering how basic and universal “waving a pointy stick” seems to be, and things like magic staves crop up millenia ago in Asia and Africa. So I guess ultimately instead of really fighting against the stereotype, it kind of reinforced them.

      • Dora Tonksová

        that is if you see technological progress as a sign of supremacy. I really don’t. You can say that having that technology has weakened the magic of the tribes. I mean I know what you mean, I just think it depends on the point of view (as in everything). It’s like watching Pocahontas – the white men came with their “progress” but didn’t grasp even the most basic rules of life and nature. Just because some people think that what colonists brought to the colonies of any kind is a progress, doesn’t mean it actually is and that it changed the lives of people on this Earth in the big picture to the better. I’d much rather see more of this world not stained by technology, and that would be if in those early states white men (which isn’t really… I mean they weren’t white, they were Spanish… but English guys after were white… anyway) didn’t bring that “progress”.

  • Randi Holtzclaw

    I’m actually curious: Do you think that Rowling purposely wrote the material this way?
    Isn’t Fantastic Beasts set in the 1920s? Not to ruin the conversations that are both insightful and making valid points on both sides (let’s be fair, everyone has risen to the occasion to express themselves incredibly well), but if we were to consider the timeframe of the book and film, then wouldn’t her writing be related as a reflection of that particular span of time?
    I mean, let’s look at the historical facts: Explorers and researchers in our unified and ‘real’ past did glaze over cultures, disrespected the people, and really were racist and ethnocentic (i.e. Look at texts for some archaeologists in that timeframe. Might not cast them [or anything around them] in good light).
    Now let us consider this: is Rowling writing ‘her’ own views while introducing this rather short (and not in-depth) history or of ‘a person’ within a similar timeframe of the book and film as something of a history book for wizards within British community as a rather poor and sloppy introduction to another country’s history and the culture within it?
    My question isn’t a means of distraction as I can see the error. I am merely curious as to what anyone thinks.
    I do admit the glazing and unfortunate poor representation is there.
    I wish that she would go back and re-craft the story with a little better effort regarding the information given to the readers. She could have really taken a positive step if the writing was not hurried and took it’s time to introduce a whole new part of the wizarding world to the readers. I feel like the most offensive thing was that she rushed through what could have been better to walk through slowly and given a richer characterization of Natives as while altogether a group that inhabited America but, broken down by each tribe, culturally, linguistically, and even magically diverse with maybe the mention of shape-shifters, healing, and so forth without giving too much details to leave it ambiguous.
    But that is just my opinion.

  • Manuel Esteban

    I’m confused. Is she writing a history book?

    • Mixelle

      She is writing about history to promote her new movie, which will make her millions of american dollars.

      • Angel

        She’s been making millions of dollars for over 20 years writing the Harry Potter series and she’s given back to so many charities. Doesn’t sound bad to me one bit? And what exactly have you have you done in that area?

        • Mixelle

          Do you work for her?

          • Angel

            No but I can only dream.

  • AlphaBeta

    I suppose some of the problem here might come from the Western modernist adoption of universal scientism: I daresay Rowling (along with a larger and larger swath of the Western global community) simply harbor no countenance to non-Western cultural traditions–there’s very little room for postmodern cultural relativism these days. If one is certain that shamanistic animism is unreal, and that actual magic (as one might read of in the Potter stories) not only does not but *cannot* happen, then one *cannot* logically, reasonably offend *anyone*. Appropriating another culture’s traditions, and then massaging them beyond recognition, is essentially Western, from Classical Greece through today.

  • Virilio

    I understand the research was half-assed that Rowland talks about Native Community as a whole, but it it too late that someone helped Rowland make the stories better, considering it’s an opportunity to have navaj and perhaps other cultures represented in a mainstream project? To her defense, the original Potter environment is not really linked to anything culturally precise, it’s a mixed bag of invention and quick borrowing from a variety of european legends (not specific to brittish).

  • Michelle

    This “Doctor” needs to be reminded that Fiction is not supposed to be taken so politically correct.. It’s not real, buddy. Calm down.

    • Mixelle

      Would like an author to write fiction about your town, family, religion?

      • Buddy_Bizarre

        Why not? Who cares? It’s fiction.

      • Riku Buholzer

        That’d be cool

      • keef

        You are aware that by it’s very nature, the word fiction implies it’s not real, it’s made up, doesn’t/didn’t exist?

  • disqus_zlucDgSWr0

    It’s fiction… Who cares? No one is re-writing history and representing it as fact… If you want to get pissed off at someone for that, start with the Mormons, and then you might as well move on to every other religion and “holy book” ever produced.
    Cultural identity is the identity that the weakest members of society cling to (this seems especially true for white supremacists but by all means applies to all cultures with a xenophobic outlook on others) and the inability to let go of cultural identity goes counter to every form of progress I’m aware of. It’s as insignificant to you as a person as the colour of your skin should be… You can’t control it, nor does it define you.

  • Union Lacktivist

    You are a kook. That is all.

  • Virilio

    I agree with you that Rowling has seemingly made no research in her topic, which is embarassing giving the scale of her reach, but I disagree that it’s not for her to know Navajo culture. There are already navajo artists and filmakers participating in what you would call “western cultural events” (like Sundance). It would be natural that Rowling’s crew hire someone with a deeper knowledge of navajo culture to create a better portrait of the more fantastic aspects of the culture that interest her. But I do not think that because one navajo person thinks his culture should be closed to western curiosity, that it should mean another navajo thinks the exact same way. Culture is ever-fluid and you never own it like that. There is no “I, MY culture”. No sorry, you are part of a culture, but your neighbor in your culture is not necessarily thinking like you.

  • Julio Weigend

    Dear Adrienne Keene: Everything is a writer’s business, and no topic is off-limits, not even your precious little bubble of native stories. I can name many examples off the top of my head where different religions are played with in fiction: 1) Prometheus suggests that human beings were seeded/bio-engineered by aliens, and the director of that movie also implied that, in the movie’s canon, Jesus Christ could have been an alien himself. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the film. 2) Neon Genesis Evangelion portrays religious figures and angels as human-killing monsters. Didn’t stop me from enjoying the show. 3) Twilight’s shape-shifters are based on skinwalkers. Didn’t enjoy that, but only because that series was crap. 4) Supernatural has skinwalkers and shapeshifters. It’s a good guilty pleasure show.

    And of course, I don’t have to tell someone with your knowledge how many times Aztec and Mayan cultures have been fictionalized in film and media, either positively or negatively, and I do have quite a bit of native blood in me, likely as much or more than you have Cherokee in you, based purely on your appearance. Sorry to break it to you, but even if you identify as Cherokee, you are and always will be white (you have addressed this in the past, yes, and your answer was underwhelming). You remind me of those college students that get put in high positions at Native American student embassies because they’re 1/16th Cherokee, with all their shiny blonde hair and blue eyes. Of course, what they don’t realize is that they’re only in those positions because their school is so homogeneous that they have no one else they could put in it. Being “less white” than other people does not make you Native American, as you will never, ever experience the full brunt of the hardship that comes with it, as I’m sure you’re well aware.

    You are white, you are privileged, and you will never be fully Native American. For that same reason, I question why you even feel entitled to “represent” Native Americans. Even with all the educational background in the world, you still cannot experience the Native American identity in its totality (nor will you ever), and thus you are unqualified to proclaim yourself to represent them. Look, I deal with the exact same issues of identity that you do on a day-to-day basis. But unlike you, I know it isn’t my place to call myself something that I never truly will understand for the simple reason that I do not possess all that is required to experience it.

    To get back on topic, I don’t complain about ridiculous things like “cultural appropriation” in fiction simply because I’m not a fool and I understand that fiction isn’t to be censored in a democratic, free society–not ever, and not for any reason, no matter how much it hurts you. You don’t have to like it and you can condemn it all you want, but you have no right to say what anybody’s “business” is or isn’t.

    You say people have no right to use your culture’s stories, but in truth, it is YOU who have no right to tell people what to do with them. Things get rethought and reinterpreted all the time, be it through fiction or through something else. JK Rowling, being the humble, politically correct sweetheart that she is, will likely apologize to you (even though she doesn’t need to), but she will do so only because she is a kinder person than me, and not because you’re actually making any sort of valid argument. If you ever told me that I couldn’t write a fictional story that takes inspiration from something you hold dear or is a part of you identity, I would ask you if you own the copyright and proceed to do it, backlash be damned. Your hurt feelings are entirely irrelevant to free speech and creative fiction, and that should always, always be so. You don’t get to tell anybody what is or isn’t theirs to use when it comes to freedom of speech and creativity. It’s a simple lesson to learn, so learn it.

    • Virilio

      Personally I think Rowling should have invested more time about the specifics (not talking about natives as a whole if that’s what she did), but otherwise yes I do not think the culture is unavailable. It’s not like there are no museums or books about Navajo culture. So it’s surprising if someone has U degrees in native studies and is a Cherokee and intend not to write books about Cherokee culture? Well, another Cherokee did, Robert J. Conley, and on Amazon there are many books by him, so how would someone be unable to make an appropriate film about Cherokee culture from the Robert J. Conley books? Because there are not Adrienne’s? I mean, the culture is out there, not hidden. It’s just Rowling didn’t put a lot of efforts with her gross generalizations, but the message “don’t touch our culture!” by Keene I find unnecessarily depressing. For navajo kids and other native kids who might want to see their bedside stories told through the mainstream lense.

    • Mixelle

      Your comments about Dr. Keene are insulting and ignorant. You use deeply ingrained colonizing language that exposes your white background. If you cannot learn to respect different peoples and their cultures, then stop spreading hatred.

      • Julio Weigend

        I guess I should have mentioned that I am in fact Mexican, born and raised. So no, try again. Do not misrepresent facts as hatred, as it does no one any favors.

        • Mixelle

          Oh you implied several times, hermano.

          • Julio Weigend

            Oh, my. First I am colonialist and hateful, and now I’m a misogynist. How you could have inferred that from my post, I will never know. I never said I was “pure-blood” because there’s hardly such a thing anymore, and if you’d actually read my post, you’d have known that. I see now you’d rather use academic buzzwords to make yourself look educated than actually engage in any sort of meaningful conversation. All of your comments towards me are meaningless and cite no examples. At least Dr. Keene gives people an idea of where she’s coming from and why. You just go on droning endlessly and pointlessly. Thanks for wasting my time.

            • Franki Webb

              But there are full-blooded indigenous people of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras etc. I work on the Maya Project, which is trying to get resources to build schools in the altiplano. I’m mixed myself, but don’t erase our indigenous brothers and sisters. They aren’t invisible.

              • Julio Weigend

                Franki Webb, that is very true. What I meant to imply was that *I* do not possess that lineage to the extent that I could justify calling myself “Native” in the way that A. Keene does. It was Mixelle who suggested there aren’t many pure-blooded natives in Mexico, which, I suppose, is not entirely untrue.

            • Mixelle

              And what exactly do you like about the Harry Potter books???

              • Julio Weigend

                I’m not sure how that pertains to the topic, but I’ll bite. I like it as much as I like any fantasy series. I’m not what you would call a huge fan, but I enjoy it for several reasons:
                1) It has, up to this point, has had some really, really decent world-building, even when it borrows heavily from other cultures and mythologies (it always has, and I will never take offense to it).
                2) It is a book series that grew up along with its audience in terms of its tone and content, rather than remaining purposely infantile, like other book series for young people tend to do.
                3) It’s a story that knows what it is: traditional, relying on archetypes and tropes (but putting a fresh spin on them), with a dichotomy of simpler good-and-evil akin to earlier works of fantasy compared to the shades of gray that dominate literature today (stories which I also like in their own right, mind you, but for different reasons).
                4) It almost singlehandedly encouraged an entire generation of children to read. That alone makes the books worth checking out, and I don’t regret that I did.

            • Angel

              I completely agree with you. For some reason she has it out for jk Rowling

              • Mixelle

                Rowling has so much power and privilege that I am like bowtruckle food (wood lice) compared to it. Why don’t you go after some real criminals?

                • Angel

                  Rowling isn’t a criminal but your’e treating her like one.

  • ILoveLunaLoveGood

    So while I hate to add to the different perspectives you’re getting on this or indeed to try and and defend Rowling. But similar to Mata, I am curious how you feel Rowling could have gone about this better.
    She has been reinterpreting history all along and for example Seamus Finnegan (esp in the films) could also be argued to be perpetuating negative stereotypes against Irish people, and she also “appropriated” leprechauns in GoF as well as “Veela”. Im sure there are plenty of other examples where she appropriated and modified cultural histories to suit her stories. That is not to defend her but again to ask what standard are you holding her to?
    She obviously did some surface-level research on these traditions, and tried to find ones that could fit into her world, skin walkers stood out.

    That being said some of the history she is building is starting to make less and less so we’ll see where this thing goes in the end.

  • Flanders

    The mental gymnastics performed here are incredible!
    *accuses someone of a grievance*
    *tells them they’re not allowed to learn more about the grievance*
    The grandstanding and fetishization of victimhood are strong with this one.

  • David

    Thank you very much for writing this. As a Caucasian person aware of my privilege and who really tries to understand perspectives outside my own, this was eye opening. My second reading of the piece was totally different after reading this blog, especially once a friend of mine made the observation the Rowling essentially cloned her British magical and gave it a different name.

    So I’m curious: supposing you received a message from JK Rowling asking your advice and input on how to authentically depict magical Native peoples in pre-17th century North America within the context of the Potterverse. How would you respond?

    • Flanders

      You’re not allowed to know about and/or reference anything related to Native Americans. Suck it, white person.

      • David

        My hand. Talk to it.

        • Flanders

          I’m sure Dr. Keene will tell you the same thing in response to your questions about Native American culture.

          • David

            Because you know all there is to know about me. Yup, this is exactly how I deal with questions about microaggressions against LGBTQ people… by lashing out and shutting down the conversation. *slow clap*

            • Flanders

              I didn’t say a thing about you.

              • David

                And I quote: “You’re not allowed to know about and/or reference anything related to Native Americans. Suck it, white person.”

                Real classy.

                • Flanders

                  That didn’t say anything about you – just applied Dr. Keene’s logic to your question about Native American culture and your white skin.

                  • David

                    Sorry. I get it now: you’re a crazy person. I’ll wait for a legitimate response to my legitimate question.

                    Bye, Felicia.

                    • Flanders

                      Turns out you were right, you respond “by lashing out and shutting down the conversation.”

                      *slow clap*

  • Flanders

    I’m really, really glad all these white people are around to defend all these minorities. If it weren’t for white people, no one would have brought up what is clearly a very, very important topic. If it weren’t for white people, its almost like these trivial slights, even if they are offensive, would go completely unnoticed. Its almost like minorities are busy dealing with real, actual, honest-to-god racism.

    Good thing white people are here to rescue Native Americans from books about wizards.

    • Riku Buholzer

      I find non-whites usually sling racism at each other the most. The Korean tour guide I mentioned before was guilty of very heavily demonizing Natives as drunkards and drug addicts to their Asian customers who thought Natives were some form of Mexicans. It’s actually a lot more vicious than you’d think, and quite easily ignored.

  • You must really hate fiction. Seriously, you must really hate it. You must hate the other Harry Potter books, because of its adaption of folk lore, religion, legends, and myth from around the world. A writer no matter what culture they are raised in is not only allowed, but needed to use any inspiration that they can call on to create a fictional world. Imagine with the Romanians started to get angry over Bram Strokers Dracula, or every time someone does a adaptation of Red Riding Hood or Snow White and the Germans get all up in arms.

    • Urthwyrm

      Imagine Christians getting angry that Rowling made Jesus a wizard.

      • Yes, the Evangelical Christian would get up-in-arms, but plenty of Christians would not. There were Evangelical Christians that hated Harry Potter.

        I would those particular Christians annoying too listing the same reasons, and changing some of my jargon.

        • Urthwyrm

          Christians tend not to get angry about their religion being fictionalized because the accurate version of their religion is so easy to find. Native American cultures and religions were hunted to near-extinction and the inaccurate versions are the only versions that appear in the mainstream so I understand why they might be more unhappy about misrepresentation.

  • IceTrey

    So if we can’t say “The Native Americans” does that mean we also can’t say “The Europeans” and “The Africans” etc.?

  • EVB01

    First off, HUGE fan of your blog. Second, Star Trek writers have treated Natives the same way. It started with an episode of Next Generation (“Journey’s End”) but was compounded in the series Voyager. Because thoroughly researching and writing Native characters makes too much sense, producers instead hired a “Native consultant” for “accuracy” (Jamake Highwater, who claimed Native ancestry but was actually…*dramatic pause*…Armenian. That’s the way though isn’t it?). Full disclosure: I’m African-American not Native American, but to me this is still upsetting.
    Worse, I don’t see JK being particularly motivated to apologize for or do anything to change it.

  • ⚓ Dave S ⚓

    You’re an idiot.

  • Dylan Palmer

    Before I read this, I was very confused about what could have been offensive about Rowling’s essays. Then I read this article and went, “ohhh, now I get what all the fuss is about.” I do have to say, it’s pretty hard for me to relate to the desire to preserve the sacredness of spiritual icons like skin-walkers, having worked so hard to escape my own religious/spiritual upbringing. But I think I now understand that the modern practice of Native spiritualities is just as much about connecting with a semi-erased cultural heritage as it is about actually subscribing to a specific religious doctrine. Is that a fair assessment?

    After reading this, I feel lucky that I’m in the same privileged position as Rowling, where I can abandon my Christian superstitions without discarding one of the last existing connections to my ancestral/cultural history. The fact is that Christianity is so ubiquitous that remixing the icons of that religion doesn’t cause as much pain as remixing the icons of a marginalized peoples’ spiritualities — and I don’t think that Rowling or I realized that until today.

  • Lauren Weidlich

    A few things: First, the issue with her clumping all Native Americans
    together is equally reflected in her clumping all Europeans together. It
    is a lazy and easy thing to do but incorrect in both instances. Native
    people are just as diverse as Europeans and that should be acknowledged
    in both cases. Second, Europeans (mainly the British, but yes, I am
    painting with a broad brush here) do not have an equivalent in their
    history to what we in North America have with our Native/First Nations
    people. As such, I think they really cannot appreciate the delicate
    ground they are treading on when they try to tell stories with Native
    people in them. I’m not saying this as an excuse, but I am trying to put
    it into context. Finally, the idea of knowledge that is not for
    everyone is a completely foreign concept to those of modern European
    descent. It is an integral issue in many Native communities, but white
    people struggle to wrap their brains around it. If you want to be mad at
    her, fine. But, I don’t think is doing any of this maliciously, she’s
    just naive and kind of lazy in doing her research. Perhaps someone
    should reach out to her to help her better understand why her writing is
    upsetting and wrong.

  • Katrika

    I was really leery of the Magic in North America series since JK Rowling said on twitter that there were no racial tensions between wizards in north america ever. The only way that could happen is if the wizarding community was COMPLETELY disconnected from the No-Maj community – and there are several different cultures and communities involved even if you’re only looking at the category of Native American, so that isn’t really likely at all. Reading three of the four stories (the fourth isn’t released yet) didn’t do anything to convince me. Native Americans being talked of as a monolith? No mention of slavery? Not to mention burning being used to represent the witch trials in Salem, which was not an execution method used, and the overall impression I get is that Rowling didn’t do nearly enough research into North American history. It’s extremely disappointing and insulting.

  • ericphillips

    I am a proud Native American, a member of the Penobscot tribe of Maine.

    I do not have a problem with other people writing stories in our cultures. I have written things set in different cultures such a Romano-Celtic England, and I try to find out about them to get it right.

    That said, there is a stereotype that all Native Americans are basically the same, when tribes from different areas, even neighbors, can have very different beliefs an spirituality. Typically people think of the Southwestern tribes as their concept, but tribes of the east coat, Canada, Mexico, anywhere else, can be very different and she seems guilty of having the “typical” Native American seen most often.

    That said, your remark “The problem … is that we as Indigenous peoples are constantly situated as fantasy creatures, But we’re not magical creatures, we’re contemporary peoples who are still here, and still practice our spiritual traditions, traditions that are not akin to a completely imaginary wizarding world …” Except that the world she is writing in is not the real world but one where magic is real, so why wouldn’t the indigenous peoples have magical abilities? You would expect any culture to have people adept with these powers.

    So, my thought, everyone is a little bit wrong in this on both sides. Rowling could have studied and understood the cultures better, and you could lighten up and realize that the world of Harry Potter is an alternate reality, not the real world.

    • Riku Buholzer

      Hello ericphillips and kwai kwai. I am half aboriginal from South America to a tribe I unfortunately do not know nor even know if still exists, half White Canadian, and have been exposed to the St’át’imc nation (I believe so, I can’t recall but it’s in Lilooet in Canada) from my now ex-step father. I hope this doesn’t come across as me praising you agreeing that Harry Potter is fantasy, rather I appreciate the attempt to actually shed light on the differences that make the tribes unique and this is the first comment I’ve seen that tries to do so from a Native. I hope that at least some other people out there find value in doing that.

    • Urthwyrm

      When it comes to European tradition, Rowling integrates religion and history but she also knows not to use living religions like Christianity. For example, she never says Jesus was a wizard. The problem is that Rowling treats Native American religion as something dead and, therefore, fair game for fictionalization rather than affording it the same respect she gives to other living religions.

    • Mixelle

      I agree with you a lot, but I think Dr. Keene is objecting to Rowling’s lumping in of wizards all together, which erases the act of colonization and violence by european invaders. Sort of like tra la la wizards all get along, there is no racism against people of color in my wizarding world.

      • ericphillips

        I didn’t read it but I got the idea from the article that the natives accepted wizards and witches yet had their own style of magic.

        But Harry Potter is kind of a world where racism does not exist in a usual form. Wizards come in all colors. Even on stage Hermoine is played by a black actress (as I understand she was not described by race in the book but the description could be of a woman of African descent). The only “race” sttruggle in those books are between wizards and mudbloods.

        I might force myself to read this (I don’t find Harry Potter too interesting (give me fiction by Neil Gaiman who does “magic world” writing in a way that runs circles around Rowling, or the excellent his Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman which is excellent and way deeper) because, admittedly, I am getting this second hand.

        In the end though, criticism is the proper response. She should hear it and learn from it. just like the works of Mark Twain which people want to ban because they have a racist attitude, writing is part of the time and can be analyzed as showing negative attitudes and help to correct them overall.

        • Mixelle

          The books are childish, so I would start with number six “The Half-Blood Prince”.

          • ericphillips

            No, I am just going to read the short story referenced in the article. I am not crazy! LOL

            • Mixelle

              So have you read Mark Twain and his casual use of the word “nigger”? That is why people want to ban his work, it misrepresents black people.

              • Barry Hamilton

                Are you defending the idea of banning the works attributed to Mark Twain?

              • ericphillips

                But it was the way it was. We cannot sanitize history or you don’t learn from it. It does not misrepresent black people, but highlights the casual racism of the era.

              • ericphillips

                If I may expound further: banning and censoring usually have the opposite effects, making them more desirable and powerful. Christian groups protested the heck out of Sorsese’s Last Temptation of Christ. The film ended up doubling the expected take of the movie because people wanted to see it because of the call for censorship. In Germany the banning of the publication of Hitler’s My Struggle has only made the interest in it from perspective neo-Nazi’s more enticing. In this case banning the book has made it more powerful. It is seen as a truth people do not want out.

                And if we ban Mark Twain, we would have to ban a huge amount of literature. certainly a lot of Shakespeare who’s plays include unflattering Jewish stereotypes (The Merchant of Venice), and plots that are unfavorable to women (Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew). Yet the inclusion of these lays in a curriculum gives a chance to discuss antisemitism and anti-woman themes that existed on the 16th century and still impact us today.

                I am a native American and a Star Trek fan. The original series episode “The Paradise Syndrome) is a very poor portrayal of natives as inferior to the white Captain Kirk. However, look the episode up on Wikipedia or Memory Alpha and you will see the criticism of the episodes themes spelled out. This is productive (I will say that Star Trek in later series did much better about native Americans, including having them in the crew of The Motion Picture, and an interesting look at tribes who had left Earth to colonize other worlds and rediscover their culture which had been lost over th centuries).

        • Mixelle

          “Wizards come in all the colors” but only the white ones have major plot lines.

          • Angel

            So what I’m Hispanic and I don’t see any inherent racism in her work. You’re so angry.

            • Mixelle

              What part of Hispania are you from?

          • ericphillips

            As this new play is coming out with a Hermione-of-color, I read an article where Hermione’s race is never mentioned in the books, but her description could be that of a black person.

      • Angel

        But she isn’t writing a history book she is writing a book of fiction, of fantasy. She has even stated that the American wizarding school was founded by various Native American tribes as well as immigrants of this nation. Not once did she generalize or lump together all Native American tribes. Your spewing out your own insecurities into a non issue and suggesting that jo Rowling is somehow disrespecting a culture of people when she is clearly not. Take away the argument of this being about native Americans and you sound like many of the Christians that denounced her books.

        • Mixelle

          So many Potterheads in the world. Does she really need more money?

          • Angel

            So she can continue to donate to many charities, what exactly have you done for society?

  • jackie

    its a fantasy book, there is no such thing as wizards, least of all the ones she writes about….the original series, never happened, not real, even if the characters were based on real people… there is no such thing as wizards.. just a fantasy book right down to the butterbeer.
    secondly , maybe she needs to think about what people are saying, she is not without her thoughts about others. bottom line as a Native person I dont feel offended but Im not going to put you down because you do, I just dont agree.

    • Mixelle

      But the money Rowling is going to make is very real.

  • harperman

    Pitifully pitiful whining on the part of the author of this article. The books are fiction and meant to fun and nothing else. Get over yourself and start acting like an adult instead of an over grown crybaby.

    • Urthwyrm

      “Act like an adult” says the person whining about someone criticizing a book series.

  • Bumby

    People who argue that the borders between Native American societies (non-physical borders, I assume, unless they mean the borders of reservations defined and redefined strategically by white bureaucracies over hundreds of years?) must be rigorously defended and never trespassed upon are obliged to explain how the concept of a “border” has much currency in the Native American societies they discuss—that is, in societies they imagine as wholly uninfluenced by white cultural concepts (by, that is, ideals of cultural purity and integrity, whose desirability for and even applicability in non-white cultures one could easily dispute). Native American societies had some understanding of “territories,” but many bands were migratory according to the seasons, and territories were understood in large part according to natural boundaries and landmarks (not, for instance, according to maps). Building walls and borders is a phenomenon unique to “developed” societies (and in my view a sign of their backwardness).

    Those Native American cultures that have chosen to cut off relations with white-dominant society have done so as part of an understandable reaction to historical trauma and not because of a culturally rooted philosophy of insularity or an interest in preserving cultural purity. These tribes tend to be in a uniquely precarious position, having suffered at a larger and more terrible scale than even most other Native American tribes–their choices are explained historically, not culturally–and normally belong to areas where agriculture enabled tribes to preserve a degree of self-sufficiency denied those that were forced into dependency on whites after the depletion (by whites) of wild game.

    Whoever supports the argument outlined by the author also has a duty to explain why a culture that values fabrication and trickery as a means of subverting the white gaze should suddenly embrace a purely realistic ethic of representation—imported from the Renaissance, of all times and places—that focuses on fidelity and Truth, on the same Truth that Native American societies contest as one of the first assumptions of their unique epistemology.

    While I agree that Rowling’s lazy portrayal is to be condemned, and that the wishes of Native American societies that have tried to reassert their cultural autonomy through policies of isolation are to be assiduously respected, I must disagree with the notion that insularity should be everywhere enshrined or understood as a value particularly close to Native American culture generally speaking. This notion is drawn more from a current mainstream liberal preoccupation conceived within 90s academia and carried out with increased speed in recent years by social media activism. This movement has its own distinct political priorities and, in truth, its own messianic self-perception. At this point, maybe it even deserves to be treated as a cultural phenomenon in itself (as “fanatical liberalism,” perhaps). Doubtless, to confuse its assumptions with fundamentally Native American ones would be a grave error.

  • NachoKingP

    You DO realize that this is a work of “fiction”…right? You need some thicker skin.

  • Savannah

    All your arguments make sense, but you’re saying that people are uneducated on native cultures and then refusing to educate them? For what purpose?

  • dudeincharge

    there’s no such thing as “appropriating” a culture – it’s a made up crime, used by people who want to control others’ conversations

  • Steve

    If you want enlightenment about Jakey Trolling, read what some Scottish bloggers have to say about her. Start here: JK Rowling is a Litigious Bully and the The Tweets You Won’t Read .

  • pinkyblues

    I’ve been following the Rowling story over the last few days and just cannot get one thing out of my mind. Given your insistence on identity politics to determine who should be “allowed” to tell which stories, it seems strange that your own background does not seem to stop you from taking this on as your fight. As a non-Navajo person of mostly European descent, how do you feel comfortable speaking over the people whose legends Rowling used?

  • Emmabelle

    I think that JK’s unfortunate mistake was believing, as so many do, that skinwalkers are analogous to werewolves in European culture. So she thought she understood them enough to write a couple of sentences. And to be honest I think a lot of people assume the same. But, they’re not. They’re a part of a living culture and discussion of them is often considered taboo in it’s true anthropological sense.
    I’m from the UK and only recently understood more about skinwalkers despite a background in folklore and anthropology when I happened account including comment from a Navajo folklorist and a lawyer working in the Navajo community on how they had an impact on people’s livesand were also not fir discussion.
    TLDR JK stuffed as she thought skinwalkers were “just” werewolves. Which is why you shouldn’t just Google stuff if it involves people’s actual faiths.

  • Jacques DeNostrechat

    sorry to point the obvious, but, this is a fantasy book, not an history one. Dont tell me you believe also that Harry Potter was a real English boy, no? =^.^= I find this book has harmless to REAL culture as Galaxy Quest. (and for the record: Galaxy Quest never happened either :)

    • Urthwyrm

      It’s not about historical accuracy. It’s about stereotyping and respect. This is the equivalent of making Jesus a wizard in the Potterverse.

  • jamestemple55

    This is petty.

  • Zachary Bower

    “Wands are a
    European invention, so basically she’s demonstrating Eurocentric
    superiority here–the introduction of European “technology” helps bring
    the Native wizards to a new level. AKA colonial narrative 101.”

    Guns & horses are European, many tribes used them because they were more efficient than their current methods. I don’t think it’s “demonstrating Eurocentric superiority” to state a historical fact or for Rowling to create a fantasy mirror of it.

    “It’s not “your” world. It’s our (real) Native world. And skin walker stories have context, roots, and reality.”

    I can’t imagine why you were accused of not knowing the difference between reality & fantasy, considering you ACTUALLY responded to “in my wizarding world” with “no, it’s the real world!” The Harry Potter world is not the real world, it just references it. She’s making it plain as day that her reference to Skinwalkers & the real world equivalent are not the same thing. She’s giving the same treatment as any other piece of folk lore that she’s referenced.

    “In addition are the crew who “would love to
    know the real history” of these concepts (again, not for you to know),
    or are so grateful that JK Rowling is introducing them to these ideas
    for the first time. This is not the way to learn about or be introduced
    to contemporary and living Native cultures. Not at all.”

    Well, Jesus, what do you expect? You pull this condescending “you don’t need to know” crap, then you complain that we’re so ignorant, & you’re mad that you don’t get answers back? Yet somehow, I doubt you’d be very happy if Rowling just ignored Native Americans entirely in her fictional history. So I guess she has to get everything “right” by your metric without being given information, but she has to be on call to answer any specific grievance you have about it? No, sorry, but I think you SHOULD be criticized for these impossible & double standards.

  • Frank

    Oh come on. Fantasy literature is full of cultural appropriation ever since the genre was first created. Putting a stop to that would mean the death of the genre. Where was this outrage with Laundry Files? Or most of Gaiman’s work? It would’ve been more offensive if the entire potterverse didn’t contain any native americans at all.

    • Mixelle

      But has any fantasy author made as much money as Rowling? Will she contribute any of her fortune to real native peoples that need help right now or just keep misrepresenting them?

      • Travis Holley

        Before asking that question, you really should look at how much money J.K. Rowling has given to charity. Regardless if it is Native American or not… HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars

        • Mixelle

          White people have spent centuries wiping Native cultures off the map, by genocide, forced removal, or forced assimilation. –

        • Steve

          Ah, yes, her charity work: Charity with Menaces. What a paragon of virtue she is!

  • Joanna Vandenbring

    Magic wands are generally not thought to be a European invention though, there’s a long Siberian tradition of shamanism and worship of trees that many anthropologists believe to be the ultimate origin of wands. Not to dispute what you’re saying but that many things you believe are European come from other parts of the world.

    • Mixelle

      But Rowling writes as if she believes wands are solely a european tradition.

  • EVB01

    There’s also a Gizmodo article for those who don’t know

  • Steve

    We should get away from a notion of culture as something that’s stable,
    bounded and fixed. Culture is always contested and changing. That
    involves innovation, borrowing, and appropriation. Having said that,
    however, let’s not pretend that cultural change happens in a power
    vacuum. It can happen in a more organic way in which many people are
    involved or it can happen through a process of disrespect and
    domination. What we have here is an extremely wealthy person
    appropriating the beliefs of a group, who have a long history of being
    oppressed, and reworking them for the entertainment of others and her
    own profit. Saying it’s just fiction or dismissing the outrage over this
    misses the point. If appropriation of this sort is so acceptable why,
    when the boot is on the other foot, does Rowling howl with outrage?
    There have been many instances in which she has used her vast fortune to
    beat appropriators of her personal life and her cultural works into
    submission with lawsuits. So ask yourself this, to take just one example
    of many, why is it ok for her to appropriate from the Navajo but it’s
    not ok for Hindus
    to appropriate from her
    ? She gets
    away with the double standard because of her privileged position in a
    field of legal, political and economic relationships.

  • Vijaya Divya Rabimohan

    Hello Adrienne,

    I am from far across continents belonging to a country that was colonized and where independence was hard earned. And suffer from appropriations in popular culture every other day. India is a country that is widely diverse, more than 1000 languages, a number of religious beliefs and cultural differences. Our cultural differences are stark when we move from one city to city, state to state, north to south.

    Reading your 3 articles about the expansion of wizarding world, I feel compelled to leave a response. Hope you have time to read.

    First, let me state this, am not any expert or knowledgeable of the Native community beliefs, practices or the oppression you fight every single day. Except the ones that are of course available in popular culture, and all the stories you mentioned. And as you said, never have I been forced to ponder about the native community the stories tell. I have automatically assumed them to be part of fiction and most times, even as fantasy.

    I am not part of your community nor am I the one facing the oppression. But trust me when I say this, I understand exactly what you mean. I can understand where you are coming from. As I mentioned before, the sheer diversification of the land am living in is too huge to comprehend even for ourselves. The only point I want to make is, information is the only thing that bridges the divide. Opening up the world, inviting people in, and showing them.

    The point you said, ‘Again for not you to know’ – this would not get the debate anywhere. How would we understand what is sensitive and why its sensitive without explaining why.
    There are people who would genuinely love to understand a culture and not appropriate it. Give it the respect it deserves. But they would have to know that it should be respected.

    When you guard every bit of your true history to yourself and still expect the world to not appropriate any of it – you risk alienating the people who genuinely don’t want to either. They just turn away, keeping in mind the fiction and fantasies of the stories. General people like me and every HP fan who would come across the blog.

    As a fellow fan, we all know HP fandom is more tolerant than others out there. You could use this as chance to explain the overview of the actual real culture rather than expecting the world to not misunderstand.

    I say this not as part of the twitter crowd who would love to know about your culture or as someone who is saying you are being oversensitive, but as someone who lives right in middle of so many diversities and tries bridging them together.

    This is a conversation the world needs to have, especially your side of world considering all the battles you keep fighting every single day(protecting lands and other sacred beliefs). And this way would only go in circles with no moving forward.

    • Vijaya Divya Rabimohan

      And I would like to mention one more thing. You said ‘this is how our culture survives and not for outsiders to discuss’

      I understand the need to guard and protect your culture close to yourself. Which is the exact reason why they end up more as fiction and fantasy to the world. The more you lock information in, the more it spawns stories.

      I cant say what JK Rowling has to have written or not written. I cant be judge of that or critique on it when I am not aware of the actual culture she is inspiring from.

      But I would have been genuinely interested to be part of the conversation of appropriation, but you are automatically blocking me out when you respond in such a way. Like you would be blocking so many people out on understanding why it was sensitive to the Native American community.

  • Perseus Smith

    How do you interpret the freedom of information with respect to cultural appropriations?

  • Lore

    I was having various “discussions” about this in communities that I belong to on Facebook. Same problems – “don’t you get that it’s fictional?”, “do you believe in book burning too?”, “you can’t tell authors what to write!”, “CENSORSHIP!!1!”. People care more about a fictional world and an author who’s profiting off the exploitation of marginalized cultures than they care about the marginalized cultures.

  • Satanic_Panic

    Ahh, good to see that the SJW contingent never takes a day off. In short, you’re a fucking moron.

  • seira

    See there’s a big problem with what you’ve written. If you don’t even want to share what your culture is really about then you’re going to have to make peace with the fact that cultural appropriation is going to occur. Unless all the members of the different tribes share this is going to happen again and again and again. And it wouldn’t be because of lack of research, it would be because you don’t want to share and also because you believe that only you all are capable of writing on this topic.

  • seira

    See there’s a big problem with what you’ve written. If you don’t even want to share what your culture is really about then you’re going to have to make peace with the fact that cultural appropriation is going to occur. Unless all the members of the different tribes share this is going to happen again and again and again. And it wouldn’t be because of lack of research, it would be because you don’t want to share and also because you believe that only you all are capable of writing on this topic.

  • seira

    See there’s a big problem with what you’ve written. If you don’t even want to share what your culture is really about then you’re going to have to make peace with the fact that cultural appropriation is going to occur. And I’m not condoning what Jo did, it was wrong. But how do you expect an author to correctly incorporate your history and traditions if the only information we get is wrong and you don’t want to correct us?

    If you’re going to say that ‘our practices aren’t like that’ but aren’t going to give us the correct version, then this is going to happen again and again and again, and you won’t be able to stop it. And as people we do have the right to write about all cultures.

    And before you all jump at my throat , let me say that I’m an Indian from South Asia. And I have a question:Would you have rather her leave the culture of the tribes of Native Americans out ? But then wouldn’t you accuse her of leaving you all out?

    • Mixelle

      Enslaved African people were mocked by whites in minstrel shows. And the white people made lots of money. But not as much as Rowling is going to get from her new movie.

      • seira

        I guess so…..

  • Saul Till

    It seems to me this is a claim that all cultures(well, not all cultures – only certain, criteria-specific cultures) have right of veto over any work of art that references them. Since this is the logical terminus of Keene’s argument she should be prepared to own this creepy strain of authoritarianism. She should be prepared to say that nothing should be written about any culture unless it is run past some presumably self-appointed group of cultural arbiters.

    In fact this piece implies more than that. It implies that not only should people like her(as opposed to the members of the native American community who disagree with her position, who actually welcome the exploration and highlighting of elements of their culture) have ‘right of veto’, it also indirectly implies that people like her should be responsible for rewriting the offending sections – after all, if, like Deene, you deny ‘outsiders’ access to the information that would help rectify the wrongs that their cultural appropriation has committed then you position yourself as the only person qualified to write about your culture. Full stop.

    From the conclusions drawn by Keene there is simply no artistic alternative for Rowling – either she refrains from even mentioning native American culture(in a book about a fictional history of North America note…) due to the requisite information being denied of her by Keene and other self-appointed guardians, or she hands over her work to the aforementioned clique of authoritarians and they rewrite it according to their apparently objective view of native American culture.
    What a joyous, creative, liberating approach to literature! Imagine all the great works of the past that would have been immeasurably improved if only their authors had thought of Keene’s approach.

    I won’t rummage through this intellectual, artistic and ethical mess any further except to point out its most telling inconsistency:
    Keene says “one of the largest fights in the world of representations is to recognise native peoples, communities and cultures are diverse, complex and vastly different from one another”(no argument there. This is a deeply important fight.).

    However, these sentences appear later:
    “What did I decide?…It’s not for you to know.” and “we as native people are opened up to a barrage of questions about these beliefs and traditions(take a look at my Twitter feed if you don’t believe me) but these are not things that need or should be discussed by outsiders”(sic).
    Keene’s assumption that there is complete homogeneity of opinion about this subject amongst native Americans directly contradicts the first quote.

    In fact the first quote(“one of the largest fights…”) is admirable – it succinctly describes the liberal, progressive aim of moving away from an age when communities had rights over individuals. But it is also completely at odds with everything she goes on to write.

    You cannot engage in the most divisive, charmless identity politics whilst simultaneously claiming your aim is to de-homogenise cultural group-identities. You can’t say you want people to recognise the plurality of opinions amongst native Americans whilst laying out an opinion that completely identifies the views of an entire community with your own. You certainly shouldn’t ignore entirely any contrary opinions that come from your community whilst repeatedly using “we” throughout your piece whenever you make a claim about what that community thinks.

    Are there secular native Americans? Native American sceptics who reject the supernatural elements of their culture? Are there native Americans who feel just as strongly as Keene about their culture but nevertheless actually welcome ‘outsiders’ exploring, even co-opting elements of their culture? If there are they are simply erased from existence in Keene’s worldview, in the same way that gay Muslims, ex-Muslims and progressive Muslims are erased by much of the left and conservative Islam because of their awkward refusal to fit into the pre-defined ideological boxes constructed by identity politicking illiberals and faux-progressives.

    Keene’s article could do with more criticism focused on the purely artistic consequences of adopting her ideas but too much time’s been spent on this daft piece already. Suffice to say that I can just about detect a glimmer of good intentions underneath the pomposity, authoritarianism, arrogance and sanctimony, but it’s a very faint glimmer.

    • Brockland A.T.

      Keene has no powers of enforcement. She can present her argument, and that’s all. Moral agency resides in her readers.

      Constructive disagreement has not been censored; a balanced presentation of honest perspectives is self evident.

      Not enough time has been spent on this issue; art is timeless.

      I see glimmers of hoping controversy will just go away so we can imbibe in feel good ‘noble savage’ vibes in the Potterverse, group hug and sing kumbaya while we roast Aboriginal nuts over an open fire.

      Preferably with the blessing of any Aboriginal who can convincingly cough up enough authenticity to whitewash the moral crime, but doing it over their dead bodies, real or metaphorical, has also earned antisocial kudos.

      Its hilarious to exasperation. It can’t be called out often enough.

      Thus does whiteness. To anyone and to all, but in this case its North American Aboriginals.

      Context is everything. Its not going away, ever, because context is integral to art.

      Art is form, art is content, art is context. Even pop art.

      The whiteness racist Christian supremacist context is inseparable from what Rowling’s History of Magic in North America has done to ‘the other’, as her antecedents of ilk in art and philosophy have done before her, and successors in ‘noble savage’ chic shall do after her. Deny Aboriginal personhood and agency, take their stuff, and proclaim supremacy in culture war against the other – and – try and fool as many into believing they’re not bad people for doing and really the good guys fighting evil.

  • Phill Ross

    I’ve found this blog very interesting, as a writer and a British one at that I tend to draw inspiration from legend, history and myth as well as every day life. I have read many books and websites about indigenous tribes from many cultures, about their beliefs, rituals and own legends.

    I admit I am not a fan of JK Rowlings work but my daughter is and goes on constantly about Harry Potter and Pottermore so I’ve picked up a thing or two about her fictional world, and that is what we have to remember here, the world she is writing about is an alternative to what we know, she uses “Artistic licence”.

    I have written a few books based around the Scottish clans, in a similar way they too were victims of English genocide and land theft, they had their own beliefs and ideals at one time too and many still hold on to those.

    My point above being that writers will always draw inspiration from the rituals, beliefs and history of the world, after all we can only write what we know and if we don’t know this is where artistic licence comes into play, the fact that Rowlings world is a complete work of fiction means that her readers will go out of their way to discover where she got her inspiration.

    I know this as a fact, my daughter really dislikes learning but I have seen her spend hours researching greek mythology because she read that Rowling had used some of this in her books, perhaps if more people research the indigenous tribes there would be a new found respect for them? the respect they deserve as every human does.

    If, as the author of this blog points out, there is no willingness to divulge the information required to portray a civilisation why should imagination not play its part? after all throughout the time of stories it is what has driven them.

    • Mixelle

      Didn’t Britain colonize the United States, and that’s why we all have to speak English?

      • Phill Ross

        yes, you have your history correct unfortunately the British colonized many places not just the US but my point has nothing to do with what the Brits did or didn’t do, I’m not proud of my Ancestry, in fact I’m not proud to be British at all especially with how the Government is acting these days. my point is that authors will borrow from all creeds, religions, faiths and beliefs especially fiction writers and as many have pointed out Rowlings work is FICTION based on a few facts this is what we do as writers we take inspiration from the world around us, what has been, what will be and what legends and myths tell us. I’m willing to share my stories of my ancestors who were actually Scots and Irish I was just unfortunate to have been born on the wrong side of Hadrians wall stories are there to entertain and enlighten a persons imagination so why should writers not borrow from others? after all it is what they have done for thousands of years. you have to remember this isn’t about racism, it isn’t about making money out of a poorer society it’s purely about Rowling telling a fictional story. I have full respect for any human no matter creed or religion as should be the way and I don’t see the issue with Rowling using Windwalkers in her story if that is so wrong perhaps I shouldn’t write about the Welsh? the Irish or the Scots but if i don’t it would be such a shame for others not to be able to enjoy my stories (presuming they do) but I honestly think this can do nothing but good for the indigenous people of America, yes she may make money out of her work “HER WORK” being the operative words and the merch which follows but she can not be blamed for that, she has no control over the merchandise side of things that will be down to her publishers, people will want to learn more about what is written, and as I said before perhaps it will bring around a new era and the respect all men/women deserve.

  • Mixelle

    Dear Dr. Keene, thank you for standing up for the truth. To all your haters, who incessantly remind you of a certain literary genre, the Harry Potter books and movies have earned their author over a billion dollars. Her work has become a worldwide phenomena, impacting cultures everywhere. So NO it’s not “just fiction”.

    • Angel

      Why are you repeatedly makeing it a point that she’s earned money from her work? Oh no God forbid a successful author makes money on what they do, that isn’t fair? Sounds like you have some sort of insecurity about her wealth.

    • Phill Ross

      JK Rowling is an Author, its her job to make money from her writing, and since when was Harry Potter a genre of its own? its fantasy much like the Dragonlance chronicles who I believe also borrowed some references from indigenous tribes of the US with one of their characters “Riverwind” as did Never Ending story with Atreu ( I may have spelled that wrong), peter pan and many many other great stories/films from the last century or more the writers of those made millions too so are they wrong also? and just to continue from my earlier reply and your comment about Britain colonizing the US, if we were to look at history maybe we should blame the Romans who as we know conquered many countries including the UK, or should we blame the Saxons of Germany? the Danes? the Spanish? French? I could go on, my point is Colonization has taken place throughout history but we only know what happened through the history books which are always written by the conquering side, Unfortunately history and the ancestors of any white European is riddled with corruption and the need to conquer and control but I am not responsible for what my ancestors did I am not accountable for their actions and neither is anyone else who lives today.

      • Mixelle

        Goldmoon: blonde. WRONG.

        • Phill Ross

          artistic licence 😉

          • Mixelle

            Stop flirting I don’t date misogynists.

            • Phill Ross

              bit presumptuous of you I wasn’t flirting just pointing out that artistic licence is allowed in writing and you can not deny that influence of indigenous tribes was used in the characters of goldmoon and riverwind even if she did have blonde hair

              • Mixelle

                Sure I can. Weis or Hickman used stereotypes eg all native Indians live in the plains, and then made money from them.

  • NolanBryce

    The last time I checked JK Rowling writes fiction for entertainment. If you don’t like what she writes then don’t read it. Personally, I read only one of her books and it was ok, but I have no intention of reading any others. If you believe her writing is offensive, then go ahead and complain. But remember, she is writing fiction.

    • Mixelle

      That has had a global impact on kids. So if she misrepresents people, that’s what kids will learn.

  • Sorg Esp

    More than Eurocentric I would say, Britishcentric.

    One of the clues of her success was, I think, that made the wizarding world “credible” because it was highly compatable with reality. But it was a Bristish wizarding world… in Britain. The whole HP story is British centered, Voldemort is the most terrific dark wizard… but the rest of Europe did not intervene in the war, almost didn’t pay attention … Well, the story was told from their point of view…

    That would be OK hadn’t she started a proccess of “copy and paste” the model. Doing that, I think that the originality of her creation dilutes. Now, with the American Magic it turns much more notorius, but time ago I had discussed among Spanish fans that it is not credible that a Spaniard wizarding community would happyly send their children to be brought up to a French School, having in mind the History of both countries and in particular the war of independence against France that took place in 1808-1814 (not to mention that no spaniard had appeared in Goblet of Fire). In fact, why every magician should be brought up in a boarding school around the world? In other cultures, magic is something they live with, they belive in and is part of themselves.

    Another example of inconsistancy with real History that the Salem trials would cause such an impact everywhere to produce an International statute. Spain, where the witch hunting had stopped one century before thanks to the common sense of an Inquisitor named…oh, irony, Alonso de Salazar, could have claimed Why now the international community should take a step and not when we were in a similar situation?. “Copy and paste the Britishcentric model” not only just diludes the originality, it also makes fans from other parts of the world feel, to say in a soft way, disappointed.

  • Marcus Cross

    I’m confused…So very confused. Everyone is talking around in circles, but no one is explaining anything. Everyone has addressed the problem, in circles, but no one is actually explaining solutions (copy and pasting clips and phrases of what someone else says does not help without context and actually explanation). Nor are they saying what is that they want to see in a North American Wizarding World’s meta and lore. Or if they are, they’re generalized and circle right back to the same problems that keep happening in Mainstream writing. Mata asked some really great questions, but none of those were answered. Mata also raised a good point on how should Miss Rowling go about writing (possibly rewriting) the North American part of the Potter Universe. (How do you include culture without appropriating it, whitewashing it, or committing ((God forbid)) erasure…because that happens often) Also no one is addressed “How to research different tribes without stepping on anyone’s toes.” We keep talking about these metaphysical advisers that Miss Rowling is supposed to have in addressing culture, but if they’re going to give her the same answers of “You don’t need to know” then how is she supposed do research…It’s an interesting conundrum I don’t understand. Also why hasn’t anyone addressed her publishing agency for inaccuracies. I see a lot of people address the writer who has control of what is written, but not the people who control what is put out on the market. (Interesting, very interesting). Mostly what I’ve seen so far in the chat is the following:

    1. “Don’t Include Native Cultures in your story without our consent” (This one makes sense)
    2. “Do some research on our culture and understand what can be put in your story with our permission” (Also understandable)
    3. “There’s a lot of things you don’t and should never understand so don’t ask us about it.” (Starting to get confused)
    4. “In fact, we don’t have to explain our culture to you” (Still confused)
    5. “These concepts are not for you, so don’t ask” (Still confused)
    6. “Do include Native Citizens”
    7. “Don’t include Native Citizens”
    8. “If you include them, then follow 1 through 5…if you don’t you are erasing them out of American Culture”
    9. “Asians from other countries have never seen ‘Native Americans’ and they don’t know they exist” (Seriously I find that hard to believe
    10-15. “It’s all about me the (older generation) adult and what I want rather than trying to understand the other side so we can be inclusive for the kids”
    16. ” Look at me explain Europe vs The World”

    Here’s the thing, most of us are on the understanding that culture does not equal commodity and we won’t our stories told by our people. I get that. However, did we forget that this is a children’s story…a mainstream children’s story that could teach so many kids about inclusivity and respect for each other’s culture and understanding. We want these characters, but when they become whitewashed in mainstream media we get up in arms.

    Or, we end up with stereotypes because the writer just says, “You know what…forget it”. Here’s something else, it’s not the average joe ,or the little guy ,or the regular person’s job to educate these mainstream writers on our culture, our language, and our history…and also how to respect all three, but it is the job of educators, researchers, and historians to step in and be like “,hey this isn’t right…you’re kind of f*cking up right now…let me sit you down for a bit.” And if they listen, good you did your job. If they don’t, that sucks, but you still did your job. Just saying “you wouldn’t get it” doesn’t explain anything to me. I’m not saying tell the writer, reader, the kids every detail of another’s culture, but tell what is that you want them to understand. Tell them what is you want to see. Tell them how you want to be represented. How you want the kids to see this? And if they don’t own up to that last part, then raise hell. But speaking on a problem and not finding solutions…arguing back and forth about how older adults feel…doesn’t do anything for the one’s who are going to be truly reading this: The Kids.

    Because techincally, while a lot of us can be of an older age now to love Harry Potter…it ain’t about us. F*ck us, whether we like it or not. It is about a younger generation picking up a new story and getting a new adventure and lesson out of it.

    • Penny Halloway

      Here is the problem: she could do that and not use native religious fixtures to do so. Harry Potter included no religious practices used by actual British people ever. Culture is fine, just learn about it and know your place. She would be better off making it modern like HP, and simply including well-represented, well-researched, complex native characters that are given interesting things to do in correlation with the main plot line. I can’t express how much i’d like that book. I’m a huge HP fan.

  • “Ugh” Is right. Thank you for this post. Thank you for your work. It’s changing minds, it’s making a difference.

  • Sakura Yukishiro Bancoran

    white people have no culture.period.

  • Penny Halloway

    J.K. Rowling understands British culture, and was able to weave it seamlessly into British Wizard culture. She clearly doesn’t know enough about Indigenous peoples to be weaving anything into anything else. What will unfortunately result is erasure, displays of ignorance and racism by fans (as Dr. K mentions), and what will feel like mockery & essential denigration to many indigenous peoples.