Is it okay for non-natives to draw native art? And what are some common issues native art has to encounter?

Thanks for writing in!

By asking this question I can see that you are coming from a place of respect and wanting to do the right thing when it comes to respecting Native culture. As we move forward as a society, we are starting conversations with great questions like the ones you’re asking.

If you want to replicate Native American tribes religious, sacred elements, fashion, symbols, language, and music then I would encourage you to reconsider.

Being from a different culture, you likely were not taught the history or the meaning behind such teachings. Not knowing these teachings could also be considered taboo. For example, even if you’ve grown up around or have good Native friends, it is still different than learning them first hand. Often times, when Native people share about their tribe they may leave out the sacred elements, as this is what we have been taught.

Some common issues that Native art comes across is cultural appropriation. When I talk to others about this, I often say that a good indicator that cultural appropriation has happened is whether someone has used another culture’s ancestral knowledge to their advantage or gain. If you fall into this category, I would again encourage you to reconsider replicating Native art.

If you do decide to replicate Native art, you may want to prepare yourself to answer questions from folks, as they may be curious about your background and understanding of Tribal art.

Thanks for writing in.

Auntie Manda

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