Taking From the World Tree: Mythology and Cultural Appropriation
Defining the boundaries of cultural appropriation is a difficult matter….
by Rajan Khanna | August 28, 2012
Excerpt from the article…
Cultural Appropriation is just that, when one culture appropriates elements of another culture. Mythology and folklore certainly count.
I’m not here to tell you what falls under the umbrella of cultural appropriation or not. It’s clear, though, that playing with the toys and tools of another culture is a risky proposition and is capable of doing some damage. One of the threats of cultural appropriation comes with modifying the original source, often a simplification of the ideas present in the original culture. Something quite subtle and nuanced and beautiful can become homogenous and blunt and cliched.
The issue becomes even more charged when talking about minority or colonized cultures. In these cases, power and privilege become issues. And no matter how well-meaning or how researched such stories may be, there’s still the danger of not honoring where these stories came from. Of trivializing the source.
William Penn and the Indians
Excerpt from the article…
The royal charter further explained that Penn had requested the grant from Charles II “out of a commendable Desire to enlarge our English Empire, and [to] promote such useful commodities as may bee of Benefit to us and Our Dominions.” But the king said there was another part of Penn’s desire, which was “to reduce the savage Natives by gentle and just manners to the Love of Civil Socieitie and Christian Religion.”
The use of the word “Love,” and the phrase “gentle and just manners,” skillfully deflects attention away from Penn’s dehumanizing intention to “reduce” “savage Natives.” The word “reduce” means “to make less,” or “to diminish.” The question arises: To make less than what? To diminish downward from what to what? The answer is this: It was Penn’s intention to reduce us from our original free and independent existence as a distinct Lenape Nation down to a form of subjection under a “Civil Society” based on the “Christian religion.”
Excerpt from PDF…
Penn was a product of the thinking of the time: the Doctrine of Discovery, through which Europeans were granted lands in the so-called New World. It is evident that Quakers in the leadership of William Penn tried from their beginnings in the American colonies to deal peacefully with Native peoples. …
In a plan to to justify seizing the land from the Lenape, the Proprietors surveyed the land, created a trail, and negotiated with the Iroquois to create a fake treaty called the Walking Purchase, In 1737, the walk began a day and a half later, an area of 1,200,000 acres were taken by the Proprietors
from the Lenape. This was the second time the Penn brothers stole Pennsylvania.