Vancouver is home to Emily Carr University of Art & Design. The following statement is on the website:
Emily Carr University is situated on unceded, traditional, and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish) and səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples.
The school offers scholarships for Native students. It also features a page called “Aboriginal Gathering Place”, as well as a microsite for Aboriginal students. There was also an impostor. The Vancouver Sun reports Gina Adams, an adjunct professor, and artist from the U.S., has resigned.
Adams claimed that she was originally a descendant of a White Earth nation member of the Ojibwe Lakota people/White Earth nation. Maclean’s magazine discovered that Adams’ grandfather was actually white. According to the Daily Mail Adams, a Connecticut native said that her inspiration for her quilts came from visions she received from her ancestors. The paper also reported that she was denied tribal membership due to no proven ancestral connection. This is especially problematic because she was hired by the university to help them hire more indigenous people.
The term “cultural appropriation” is now so common that anyone who does something that was done by a minority at one time or another is guilty of appropriation. Drew Barrymore was criticized for sharing a video in which she “frolicked” in the rain. TikTok claims that Barrymore stole frolicking from black men. Personally, I believe that if you’re over nine years old and not a dolphin, but you’re frolicking you might find something more worthwhile to do with your time.
However, there are arguments against appropriation to a certain extent. Native Americans have been mocked in cartoons, inaccurately depicted in popular culture, and had their traditional clothes turned into Halloween costumes. It’s not funny for everyone. When I was married to a native family, I had to face this reality. I was inspired by my in-laws’ involvement on the powwow circuit to learn how to dance. It wasn’t that I was trying to be part of the culture, but rather I was trying to be part of my family and spend time with my father-in-law. I have never claimed to be Native American, and I used to joke about being a Northern White Boy Tribe member.
It was decided that I would become a Southern Straight dancer because the regalia didn’t require me to use raptor feathers which are prohibited by law for white people.
Most people didn’t seem to care, even the locals. However, at one pow-wow, when it was time for the grand entrance, a tribal member from another area approached me. He was upset that I was wearing regalia and taking part in an activity, not my birthright. That was understandable. He didn’t know that I was part of a tribal family. Or just a hobbyist.
Perhaps Adams felt empowered by the fact Elizabeth Warren, who was also caught in a similar lying, never suffered any real punishments for her deceitfulness. Maybe she was looking to make a quick buck and believed her story would never be proven. Maybe it was cultural envy. Adams could have felt overwhelmed or ashamed of her heritage and decided that it was time for a new identity. We live in an age where whiteness is often associated with oppression and rape, murder, and colonization. This is despite the fact these things have been practiced in many cultures around the globe for centuries. Her fault could be a result of shameful self-imposed behavior and virtue signaling, rather than avarice.
If that is the case, it is unfortunate, since we should be at a place where everyone can have pride in who they are. Of course, we aren’t in that place and probably won’t be for a while. But we should be.