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Saturday 17 February 2018

JK Rowling accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ for using Native American legends in new story

JK Rowling
JK Rowling
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The first of JK Rowling's four-part backgrounder ahead of Fantastic Beasts landed yesterday and not everyone is happy.

The new story about the history of magic in North America references members of the Native American wizarding community as "gifted in animal and plant magic".

She says they often practice magic without wands and she describes Native American 'skin walkers' ("an evil witch or wizard who can transform into an animal at will") as Native American Animagi (creatures of her own creation).

Some Native American fans have taken issue with her writing, accusing her of 'cultural appropriation'.

Dr Adrienne Keene, an author on website Native Appropriations, wrote about her concerns before the story had landed.

She said Native American culture was "not fantasy on the same level of wizards".

"We fight so hard every single day as Native peoples to be seen as contemporary, real, full, and complete human beings and to push away from the stereotypes that restrict us in stock categories of mystical-connected-to-nature-shamans or violent-savage-warriors," she wrote.

"Colonization erases our humanity, tells us that we are less than, that our beliefs and religions are "uncivilized", that our existence is incongruent with modernity.

"How in the world could a young person watch this and not make a logical leap that Native peoples belong in the same fictional world as Harry Potter?"

While some criticised the author on social media, others came to her defence, stating that the story may encourage young people to "investigate and appreciate Native American culture".

Rowling has not yet responded to the accusations.

The short story was published on Rowling's Pottermore website on Tuesday with the other three instalments landing at 2pm today, Thursday, and Friday.

You can read the first instalment of her background stories HERE.  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them releases on November 18.

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