COMMENTARY: Cultural appropriation and commercialism….issue

by Apr 9, 2018OPINIONS

Observations and random thoughts Vol. 2018 1.5




I want to start this edition with my best wishes to the family of Dr. Wolfe who has walked on.  He was a Cherokee National treasure. It behooves us to understand that he came from a time when we as a people were on the way out, the “Vanishing Race” as they called us then, but Dr. Wolfe never lost his language nor his history nor his culture and throughout his life passed those down to enrich our little ones. We have to honor his spirit and continue to enrich our young ones. Thank you Dr. Wolfe for everything.

Now, back to the fun and games. There’s never a dull moment anymore, anywhere, something is always happening, all of the drama is wearing me out. They’re playing odd man out at the White House. The odd man just won’t leave so everyone else seems to be going. Who’s next? I’ve lost track.

Survivors of the shootings at Parkland High School in Florida and kids across the country decided they’ve had enough and demanded changes in existing gun laws. The GOP elected reps decided that doing nothing was fine, so that’s what they’ve done. President Trump derided them by saying they shouldn’t be afraid of the NRA and proposed actual changes. Then the NRA came to visit, Trump was whistling another tune after they left. Nothing is to be done, except for bump stocks being banned.

I am going to assume that a few people on the Rez are members of the NRA. It only makes sense because there are actual Washington (insert racist slur here) fans on the Rez. I’m also positive that the folks from the neighboring towns that fly flags on their Ford trucks are. And, I will proudly state here and now, I am not. I’m not anti-gun by any stretch of anyone’s imagination because I grew up with guns. But, I don’t need to join a little club to own a gun. And, though they may get the little boy, or girl, in all of us excited, nobody needs an assault rifle. Oh, we want one but we don’t need one. Difference.

President Donald J. Trump actually said that if he’d been in Florida during the killings he’d probably have run into to the school, armed or not. I’ve seen him freak out over an eagle, a sudden sound startled him badly at a rally in Albuquerque, and he had five deferments including one for bone spurs to avoid serving in Vietnam so yeah…no he wouldn’t have.

The NRA talking heads and your GOP Congress-hacks all divert any discussions about again banning AR type weapons toward a standard line about “taking away our guns”. It’s all pure horse crap, and I call BS. Nobody is talking about “taking away” hunting rifles, shotguns, handguns. The Whiter House talking point now is a mental health restriction with teeth to prevent nutjobs from having a dangerous weapon. I think it’s kinda sad funny that Trump already signed an executive order dissolving Obama’s order regarding these restrictions to mental defectives buying guns. He does put on such a sad face when making speeches about the thing he ordered gone. Under the proposed mental health restriction, Trump would not pass that evaluation.

I have a dilemma, coupled with an enigma, wrapped around a conundrum, but it’s strictly personal. I applaud the two homegirls branching into the business of beer making because Native women becoming business owners is something that I support. But, at the same time, I don’t support the cultural appropriation and commercialization for their business or wares any more than if it was an outsider using our traditions and history to sell stuff. As for the business, many names that represent the area come to mind, none being Seven Clans Brewing with Mother Town Blonde Ale being the first offering. Another name, any other name comes to mind. Maybe Oconaluftee Craft Brewery or something like that. And, the beer, also another name – maybe Sequoyah Blonde, Junaluska Stout, Yonaguska Summer Ale, Trail of Tears Dark, Boudinot Bitter or Tsali Pale Ale were all taken?

But, herein lies the dilemma and the realization, our Cherokee culture is ours, it’s not mine to restrict and it belongs to all Cherokee, whether we agree on its blatant commercialization or not. I figure considering with all of the names used by the craft shops downtown we might be kinda used to it by now. But, I will say this, if anybody asks me about it I’ll say I don’t know anything about them, they must be from Oklahoma.

Ledford is an EBCI tribal member currently residing in Albuquerque, NM.