Hey, I need to soundboard something – I just bought a pair of mukluks locally made in northern MN, inspired by the native Cree community. The woman who creates them is not native, yet is a staple person in the northern MN community. They are beautiful boo

By asking this question I can see that you have some concerns. Listen to your gut… and let’s talk it through.

As we move forward as a society, we are starting conversations with great questions like the ones you’re asking. What was once okay or seen as normal can shift as we start to learn more about ourselves and other cultures. What was accepted by our parents and elders may no longer be acceptable to the younger generations as we move further away from our colonial past. This is a good thing.

From a design standpoint, Indigenous designs are the bomb. However, what is missing when non-Natives replicate traditional designs is that they are likely to not be taught in the proper ways like the meanings of the sacred elements and teachings of this art.

This in itself could be considered taboo. For example, even if you’ve grown up around or have good Native friends that have taught or shared part of their culture, it is still different than learning them first hand from the correct people. Often times, when Native people share about their tribe, they may leave out the sacred elements, as this is what we have been taught to do.

Another thing to consider when it comes to Native art is cultural appropriation. When I talk to others about this, I often say that a good indicator that cultural appropriation is happening is when someone is using another culture’s ancestral knowledge like religion, cultural traditions, fashion, symbols, language, and music, to their advantage or gain.

Lastly, there are so many amazing Native artists to support out there, if you feel compelled go this route in the future.

Hope this helps! Thanks for writing in.

Auntie Manda

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