The Unfortunate Reality

Health And Well-being

Cultural appropriation is linked to mental health issues. The inappropriate use of attire and objects has destroyed its sacredness and twisted its meaning, weakening it in the eyes of all. Indigenous youth all over the Americas suffer from low self-esteem due to a negative view of their own culture, supported by a belief in negative stereotypes. Culture stress is a major factor driving Indigenous youth to self-destructive behaviour and suicide.

Economic Self-Sustenance 

For several individuals, barriers such as classism, racism, and xenophobia mean they don’t have the right identity to earn income with their culturally specific tools. Often, the dominant culture can turn those same tools into profit,which ultimately hurts the community they’re appropriating from. For instance, let’s say that a middle-class White woman gets into Indigenous spirituality, and sees the chance to start a business based on what she’s learned. In order to sell her products, she has to participate in a discriminatory system, since federal government policies that make it hard for Indigenous people to start their own businesses. This is a professional culture in which White women and middle class women can fit more easily than poor Indigenous women. While she profits, the Indigenous women she adopted her products from lives in deep cycles of poverty and unemployment. Individuals with privilege have other options for earning income, and risks involved for marginalized people show that it’s more ethical to pursue another path.

“We are known by things that have nothing to do with us or that we’re the gifts of Western civilization. We are known by the Tomahawk chop (that’s a white person’s invention), the boom “boom boom boom boom boom” (which is just a lack of creativity on the part of movie directors of musicals), and “whoo whoo whoo” (which is just drunken white people coming out of bars at closing time) and [they have] nothing to do with Indians. Most of the things that have to do with us and are the most offensive are the things that cartoon us and dehumanize us in that way. When you’re buttering your toast with something that comes from the Land of Lakes, and you’re drinking something that’s [named] after one of our great warriors [or] spiritual leaders, and having honey that has a little cartoon of an Indian woman, all of these things contribute to the low self-esteem of our teenagers Low self-esteem is the main cause of teenage suicide and we have the highest teenage suicide rate than any population in this country. It is an absolute imperative that people stop using these racist images and terms and names because it means life or death to some of our people.” – Suzan Harjo, Native American rights activist


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