“Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling’s latest work, released this week, is stirring criticism from many Native American fans for what they view as its appropriative and colonialist depiction of Native wizarding.
The British author recently released the first in a four-part series about North American magic and wizardry communities on Pottermore, her interactive website for Harry Potter fans. The first installment describes Native American wizards as ”gifted in animal and plant magic,” among other skills and behaviors sometimes associated with older Native practices.
The piece has drawn tremendous criticism, especially from Native readers, for cultural appropration and paternalism in its depiction of Native magic practices. While the work is ostensibly fictional, it appears rooted in a misinformed understanding of Native tradition—something Native Apporpriations blogger and scholar Dr. Adrienne Keene pointed out on Twitter:
You can’t just claim and take a living tradition of a marginalized people. That’s straight up colonialism/appropriation @jk_rowling.— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) March 8, 2016
Keene’s criticism reflects many of the issues aired by other readers:
Harry Potter fandom is overflowing with racist microaggressions Native Americans will have to deal with thanks to culture appropriation.— Fangirl Jeanne (@fangirlJeanne) March 8, 2016
So, yeah as an Otoe-Missouria & Choctaw Potterhead I have a lot to say on this because the way we are being included is a slap in the face— Johnnie Jae (@johnniejae) March 8, 2016