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9/23 Tommy Bennett

In Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Culture”, the reader gets to see what the worst of cultural appropriation and commercialization could turn out to be.  A future is pictured where, using virtual reality, tourists are able to get an authentic Native American experience in exchange for money. The character of White Wolf is an extended metaphor for the way that white people exploit other communities’ cultures. While at first White Wolf merely seems to be a friendly stranger who wants to learn about Indigenous American’s culture, by the end of the story he has robbed the protagonist, Jesse Turnblatt, of everything. When white people enter into another culture’s space and assume parts of it as their own without experiencing any of the true hardship that comes with being a part of the group, it leaves true members of the culture stripped of their identity and sense of self as the protagonist is at the end of the story.

This fictional reading was made even more interesting by chapter 7: “As Long A Grass Grows Or Water Runs” in APHOTUS.  In this chapter, we learn about Andrew Jackson’s strategies of displacing indigenous people to further benefit white America. The chapter discusses how Jackson was hailed as an incredible leader in part for his military actions against indigenous tribes as well as how, as president, he supported Georgia’s right to remove the Cherokee tribe from its land in spite of the fact that the Cherokee helped him in an earlier battle against the Creek tribe. The history of the interactions between white and indigenous people is an unbelievable cruel one, which makes Roanhorse’s statement against cultural appropriation in her fictional story more powerful. As the cultural group that has directly caused much of the indigenous people’s suffering, it is even more inappropriate for white people to now adopt that culture as their own.

 

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