What is Cultural Appropriation?

Before this reading, I had never really heard of this mysterious term of cultural appropriation. I am in shock after reading this chapter and now recognize all of the mistakes I have made, without even knowing I was even making them. I can now admit that I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but am now able to learn from these mistakes.

I gained the most understanding during the reading when Vowel explained that “I think some people from outside a culture can have legitimate access to these things without it being cultural appropriation. They key, in my opinion, is respect.” (86) I want to be respectful.

“A lot of work and high-quality materials go into Indigenous stuff… There are skills and training involved in producing these sort of things that can be imitated not matched.” (Vowel, 89) The example that sticks out in my life happens to be my black moccasins. My mother works at the hospital at got in contact with a Hutterite woman who said she would make her a pair for only 25 dollars. The first thing that came into my head was “They are never that cheap, I would love some!” I was not thinking at all about who was making them, or where they were coming from, I just simply wanted them. I got to choose the leather, the fur, and the beads, and was the happiest when I received a nice pair of comfy moccasins. After I got them, I wore them everywhere. I lived in residence my first year of university, so my moccasins didn’t leave my feet because I never had to go outside. Recently, I asked my dad to take a picture of the bottom of my moccasins for me and he replied “Why? They are gone.”

I now keep my moccasins hidden under my bed at home. At first it was only because of the reason that they were worn out, but now it is for a much more genuine and respectful reason. At this moment I can’t afford to spend 200 dollars on authentic beaded and fur-trimmed moose-hide moccasins, however, I am more than able to go without until I can.

“Feeling a deep appreciation for a culture not your own may require you to refrain  from immersing yourself in the culture in the matter you wish. Remaining an outsider, in certain ways, might be the most respectful way you engage with another culture.” (Vowel, 87)

– Ms. S


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