Cultural Appropriation | Misappropriations and The ManKind Project Episode 277, October 29, 2022
Right now, I should be volunteering at a New Warrior Training Adventure, a weekend event run worldwide by the ManKind Project. But a couple of weeks ago, Oct 11 to be exact, it was canceled by MKP USA. All the planned New Warrior Training Adventures, NWTAs, were canceled in the US for the rest of 2022. The cancellations were due to charges of cultural appropriation from a group of Native American elders called Spirit.
First off, let me clarify that I am a middle-aged white American man. I have no insight into what it means to be Native American, or any other race or culture for that matter. I am sharing my opinions and asking questions. I am not representing any other individual or group.
And I’m willing to be wrong about everything I think I know.
When I discovered that all NWTAs were canceled, I was shocked, disappointed, and hurt. My NWTA was back in October 2016. There was a lot of Native American ritual and ceremony, and it was presented very respectfully, honoring where they came from and giving full acknowledgment. It was stressed how much training ManKindProject (MKP) men had with the Lakota people to learn what we would be doing.
I thought cultural appropriation meant taking something from another culture and claiming it as your own. MKP never did that in anything I was involved in. Nobody in MKP claimed to have invented the sweat lodge or any other rituals I took part in. The sweat lodge seems to be the main point of contention, but it is just one of many different events that make up the NWTA weekend.
My brief research found that many cultures have used sweat lodges for purification, healing, and relaxation. Most commonly known are Native Americans, but also the Mayans, Aztecs, and across Europe as early as the 5th century. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sweat_lodge
America is a melting pot of hundreds of cultures. Borrowing from other cultures is inevitable; it can be positive. To me, it is the evolution of society.
Centuries ago, people came to North America and saw natives as less than.
The letter from Spirit (https://www.spiritprotection.org/letter-to-mkp) makes it clear that native people are still hurting.
To me, MKP has been trying to honor the native practices they use, but it is not seen that way by all native leaders.
You can do the right thing and still have it be the wrong thing.
Earlier this year, the ManKind Project USA published a statement, “Acknowledging and Evolving Our Relationship with Indigenous Peoples and Practices.”
Note: NWTA events continue to happen outside of the US.
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