So, part of the joy of writing a blog is getting hate mail.  It's cool - it actually entertains me a bit.  The haters seem to think that because you write a blog or share information, that you are on some kind of ego trip. 

Well, I tend to think that it is arrogant to research and then hoard information.  That is the ultimate in building yourself a pyramid upon which to sit and watch all the oi polloi running about like so many ants.  I like pyramids, they are cool and historical.  I don't like arrogant assholes.

There are many in this hobby who collect information, build new, improved kit, and never share it with others.  Worse still, they turn around and sell their old crap to their "friends."  Let us be honest, are you really helping anyone besides your self?  Southeastern Native reenacting is full of this.  These same people are the ones who try to take ownership of other people's hard work and pass it off as their own.  That's about the lowest of the low.  You can pretty easily spot this clown as he moves from group to group as bridges are burned.

On the other hand, folks like David Hobbs, Nathan Kobuck, and Wynne Eden, very openly share their findings and always have when asked.  They are the ones who want to see everyone improve.  This is what I aspire to be.  

So, no, this blog isn't about my ego trip.  Plain and simple, I would like to see everyone around me have a better kit than me. When you surround yourself with people who are always two steps behind you, your stuff might look awesome, but YOU look like the jackass you are.  Share information.  Push people to improve.

Now, with that in mind, these are things which should NOT be part of your 18th century SE Native kit (or NE for that matter):  

So I had sworn to myself that I would avoid any type of political discussion on here.  There has been a recent flury of discussion which has caused me to break my promise.  

Native reenactors walk a very fine line.  This line is the one which separates historical interpretation from cultural appropriation.

We have become numb to the fact that the things we do affect other people.  When it comes to living history, we are affecting a group of people of many cultures who were experiencing (and in some instances still do) an all out assault on their cultures for the past 400 years.  It is more than understandable that Native Americans would be suspicious of a bunch of crazy white people who dress up as 18th century Indians on the weekend.  It can certainly come across as cultural appropriation, espcially when those crazy white people refer to themselves as Cherokee, Mohawk, Lenape, &ct instead of as interpreting Cherokee, Mohawk, Lenape, &ct.

What is it that crosses the fine line?  Well, building a sweat lodge at a reenactment for one.  This is the interpretation of religion.  That should raise all kinds of red flags.  "But we can interpret a church survice on Sunday." Yeah, but that is part of YOUR CULTURE!  The sweat lodge and all things surrounding it, have never been part of European culture.  Sweating was not something done for an audience, and there was more to it than just hanging out in a sweat lodge. 

Take a minute and think about how your actions will affect another person or group.  Recognize that to many tourists, their encounter with a Native reenactor might be their only encounter with "an Indian" no matter what your actual blood quantum.  It is imperative we recognize our place and responsibility.  

In the end, please do not cross the barrier.  The actions of one person can have ripples which will affect someone hundreds of miles away, years down the road.   After 400 years of attempted cultural genocide, American Indians are still here.  Cultural appropriation is just as vial as cultural genocide. 

    J Melius

    If you found yourself here, you are more than likely aware of my passion for researching Southeastern American Indian material culture.  Its a sickness I've been wrapped up in since the early 1990's.  While some of my thoughts might come across as somewhat abrassive; they are not meant to offend.  No, I dont call myself and expert, only a student of history and culture.  Hopefully we all seek to further our education and this is intended as an extention of my unending desire to learn and share.


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