Submission: It’s not Native Americans’ job to teach White people about our culture


For the past 500 years we’ve been told our cultures were immoral and “savage”, our ancestors have been places in boarding schools to remove them from their culture by “Killing the Indian and saving the man”. After 500 years of being tormented for our beliefs, now people are screaming “teach me!” Why is this a problem you may ask? Most traditional Native Americans in the 21st century have been reduced to practicing their culture in private because for so long we were forced into hiding it. Centuries of ridicule have turned us off to showing others about our culture. The smallest tidbits of information non-Natives even find is HUGELY appropriated. The things I find appropriated the most are general spiritual beliefs, Native names, and regalia. I’ve seen people “pray” to the Great Spirit without knowing what the Great Spirit is or what they represent. People give themselves Native names improperly, a Native name is given to a Native American in their own language, it is not a stereotypical “Walking Bear” English name. And concerning our regalia? Well I think you’ve seen enough headdresses, war paint, and feathers worn insensitively and improperly. Native Americans who are still a part of their culture are in a tough place to be in, just the little information that is out there is hugely appropriated, and if we don’t teach people about our culture we’re considered chauvinist  among non-Native Americans. This does not mean we never teach people, we do teach outsiders, but it is only if we want to. You CANNOT and SHOULD NOT ever demand to know anything from a Native American who is not willing to teach you. Remember it is our culture to do with what we please, if we choose to teach you it is an honor and not a right. You are never entitled to someone else’s culture, if you are lucky enough to be taught about it, please be respectful about it.

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    September 27, 2011
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