Not long after I closed down the anonymous question/answer sessions I had on Facebook, I received a startling message accusing me of cultural appropriation over my relationship with Crow and Coyote. I can’t use any of the message that was sent to me, since I do not have permission from the individual to use any part of the message, so I will do my best to convey things by paraphrasing the best that I can.
The accusation was fairly blunt and straight-forward. I was told that I was taking from the First Nations’ cultures and belief system and grafting directly on to my own. Rather than “staying in my lane” (paraphrased), I was trying to make myself into a white member of the First Nations. That by doing as I was, I was essentially stealing from a culture that wasn’t mine. I get the gist of things.
For this article, I googled a definition of the phrase “cultural appropriation” and encountered the following:
The unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.http://www.google.com – search term: “cultural appropriation”
Nearly everyone knows that my relationship with Crow is a paramount focus of my spiritual life. When Crow approached (for lack of a better term) me to work directly with Him, I asked this exact question. The response I got was as follows: [Crow]: ‘I am not asking you to follow the Old Ways of the People. I am not asking you to be a Shaman of any sort, nor to emulate their ways and abilities. I am asking you to work directly with me in ways I cannot and will not ask the People for. I need you for other things.’
Crow doesn’t want me to be a Shaman or Medicine Man, nor am I desiring to adopt the aspects of First Nations people. My primary focus is to be a Guardian where needed, required or requested. My relationship with Crow is a one v. one relationship. I am not being asked to attend pow-wows or even pass myself off as a white-man of the People. When I asked about whether I should follow the practices of the People, Crow reminded me that our relationship was different than the one He holds with the People.
“I call who I call,” He replied, “and I call to you. I have need of your talents. I have Knowledge and Experience to trade. Take your time, weigh the good and the bad. Decide if our bargain is a good one or not, and let Me know.” Well, I did, and my choice is obvious. I follow a First Nations God, but not as a member of the People because I am not of the People.
Who are “the People?” Well, part of that comes about from where I physically live. If you trace the interstate route between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas metromess, you will cross the Oklahoma/Texas border near a small city called “Gainesville”. I live in a small town just three miles to the west of there on Texas Highway 82. The town is Lindsay, Texas. This was the eastern edge of the Commanche peoples’ winterlands on the central plains. The term “Commanche” translates to “the People” and it is this reference that bleeds through in communicating with Crow. I have no First Nations blood in my DNA; other than a cryptic entry to one of my Great, Great, Great uncles having married “a Cherokee Woman” according to my Ancestor charts. Still, I would never consider this to even grant me even a peek into First Nations’ ancestry for myself; thus I constantly state I have no First Nations’ blood. I am not of the People. I know this and acknowledge it. In our initial connections and meditations, Crow acknowledged this as well.
Part of appropriate the spirituality and religion of the First Nations’ people, according to the definition would be my adoption of the customs, practices, etc etc of the First Nations people, which I am not doing. The relationship I have with Crow is between He and I. I am not trying to claim myself as a white-man who is being admitted into all that is the First Nations. My relationship with Crow is individual, and He was clear that I am not to adopt the customs or rituals or concepts of the People. Because I am not of the People. And I am perfectly fine with that. Crow calls me, not as a part of the People, but as a different relationship between He and I. Anything else would be disingenuous. I would, in essence, be pretending to be something I was not.
Now to be completely honest and clear, I have no need to explain myself or my relationship with Crow to anyone. The Gods call who the Gods call. No reason needs to be provided, nor explained. Regardless of what I explain or describe, there will always be those who will continue to label me with cultural appropriation. So be it. Some minds will not desire to listen. In the end, the real place of understanding is my own. I must always be sure that my relationship with Crow is squared and appropriate between He and I. The opinion of others does not matter.
So why do I write this? To circle back and provide a description of how this works for others struggling with similar relationships with Gods of other cultures. Hopefully, this provides an understanding for others to realize that their immediate relationship with the Gods is Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG), where the tangible part of what makes up your relationship with God(s) is based primarily on your own experiences with Them. And that this can be just as valid and strong as the relationship that others have with the Gods.