What is Cultural Appropriation?

A brief introduction to Indigenous cultural appropriation of craft in Canada

In recognition of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, the Canadian Crafts Federation (CCF/FCMA) has developed “What is Indigenous Cultural Appropriation?”, a brief introduction to cultural appropriation of craft in Canada. The Canadian Crafts Federation acknowledges the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation as an opportunity to reflect and commemorate residential schools and the history of Indigenous people in Canada.

In response to our experience of craft, the CCF/FCMA encourages all to understand the implications of cultural appropriation of Indigenous artwork and cultural commons. Being conscious of cultural appropriation reestablishes the significant connection between cultural spirituality, symbolism, way of life, creativity, traditions, stories and much more to people that have been historically outlawed. Cultural appropriation is seen as a continued act of colonization. It’s important to be aware of any privilege a maker may have within the craft community, including the economics, education, and opportunities available.

What is Indigenous Cultural Appropriation? emerged from the urgency to contribute to the anti-colonial narrative and to remove the profiting of fraudulent Indigenous artwork.“What is Indigenous Cultural Appropriation?” is a digestible introduction to cultural appropriation for artists, administrators and organizations. In this document, we explore topics like cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation, the benefits of collaboration, what can be done to avoid cultural appropriation and tips to spot fraudulent artwork and craft.

In some cases, cultural appropriation occurs when makers or sellers are unaware of the damaging implications and repercussions.“What is Indigenous Cultural Appropriation?” is intended to help the reader better understand, recognize and act when faced with an instance of cultural appropriation of craft in Canada. We hope that you can use this document as a reference or a point of reflection.