This is our third year of proposing Native content and inclusion for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. Until 2018, I don’t recall seeing any Indigenous content from SXSW or by topic in panels.
Our first year in 2018 of applying gave us some insight about how little visibility that modern Natives have in modern society in events that touch on contemporary culture in the United States. It wasn’t news to us, but it was a learning curve on how best to pitch the importance of inclusion, especially about this particular topic. In 2019, we were ecstatic to be informed of our panel’s approval. In addition, there were numerous Native panels on a variety of other topics that were approved as well!
And then COVID-19.
It was vitally important that large events were canceled to slow the spread of the virus. As such, we put our faith into a future event. When the Panel Picker opened up for the 2021 conference, we submitted our panel on cultural appropriation yet again! Our proposal has been accepted for consideration and we are now counting on our Native communities to help us illustrate the importance of the topic on cultural appropriation to be included in the 2021 SXSW programming.
How pervasive is cultural appropriation? Perhaps you haven’t noticed it. It’s a subtle thing because we’re presented as mascots in mockery cartoons or the name of a football team containing an actual slur, culturally wrong icons on your packages of butter and the sides of trucking company semi trucks, props of ancient and long dead “savages” wearing a headdress paired with festivals to down some “fire water”, tattoos of skulls in headdresses, that dreamcatcher thing hanging from your rear view mirror, and every day speech such as “Indian giver”, “off the reservation” and “on the warpath”.
If any of the above references were immediately familiar to you – congratulations! You’ve taken the first step to recognizing an instance of cultural appropriation. It can only get better from here and we can help.
How you can help:
- You must create an account at SXSW.com in order to vote for the Panel Picker proposal.
- Once you have signed in and voted, consider sharing the news throughout your social media!
- If you can, take a few extra moments to leave a comment on why you think this is or isn’t important.
- RT when @NtvTwt, @aliwatson117 @chelseymooner or @_ancynita tweet about it. Include #SXSW if you @ us with your own tweet.
- The proposal may be reviewed through this link: https://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/108512
About Ali Watson: Ali is Oglala Lakota and Choctaw, Oklahoma. She has been on Twitter since 2009. Originally, she used it for promoting Japanese rock and Visual Kei music. The majority of her social media time outside Twitter was devoted to JRockRevolution.com. However, catching moments of cultural appropriation or trying to educate about it now and then was something of a lonely endeavor until discovering #NativeTwitter. For the last year, Ali has followed issues that arise and felt that a website to consolidate information specifically for Twitter might be beneficial. It could make finding past topics easier and provide an archive in a way that can’t be achieved in Twitter alone. While still promoting Japanese rock music, Ali plans on continuous development of both.
Statement: “Somehow, the travesty of cultural appropriation is currently internationally accepted. This is something that needs to be changed. The bulk of the effort on education has largely been left to Indigenous people to an audience who largely hasn’t been keen on listening, let alone educating themselves. Part of the reason, in my opinion, is that the origin of appropriation comes from Canada and the United States and has been normalized for so long that it’s managed to go under the radar as disrespectful or offensive to other cultures outside those countries. Too many people claim Native identity without having any actual In recent years, there has been more awareness of what cultural appropriation and the harm it causes. Being able to educate on a platform such as SXSW would benefit Natives and non-Natives alike.”
About Chelsey: Chelsey Moon is Ojibwe and enrolled in the Bay Mills Indian Community in northern Michigan. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Central Michigan University. Chelsey runs a YouTube channel under her name where she provides a wide range of styles of content, including educational and commentary videos on topics such as cultural appropriation.
Statement: “I’m thinking for my piece, I would like to talk about how the common understanding of cultural appropriation is that it is offensive to the people who come from that particular culture, which, in my opinion is partly why it’s difficult to convince people who don’t care about offending others to stop appropriating. While it is true that it is offensive, cultural appropriation is so much more than just being politically correct and not offending others, it has real consequences that put appropriators on top while oppressing those from the culture they took from. For example, Native peoples are generally economically disadvantaged due to a long history of oppression for American gain. Non-Natives who appropriate Native culture for profit further that oppression because copying the skills and talents developed by Natives is disenfranchisement. Many Natives rely on their skills and talents for their income and well-being, and having to compete with non-Natives who are selling ideas that are not their own, they struggle to improve their economic standing. That was an in-depth example of the consequences of appropriation. Other consequences, explained briefly, is the effects of Native children’s self-esteem, the fetishization and maltreatment of Native women, and the overharvesting of traditional medicines.”
Stay tuned for info on our other panelists!