You're a good person who really cares about diversity, inclusion and the plight of historically oppressed people. You have at least three tattoos from other cultures on your body, you do yoga, you don't wear headdresses to music festivals (we won't talk about that bindi or those white-people dreads) and you really appreciate and respect Indigenous cultural artifacts and artistic expression. So naturally, you want to make a dreamcatcher! Let me, a Mi'kmaw woman whose culture does not originally include dreamcatchers, give you a step-by-step process for making one.
1. Forget everything you learned about the diversity of Indigenous Peoples: That shouldn't be hard because it probably isn't much. With over 600 federally recognized Indigenous communities and over 60 distinct languages broken down into regional dialects, it can be hard to remember who's who and what's what when it comes to cultural appropriation. Furthermore, if we're all Indigenous, why do you need to know the difference between Métis, First Nations and Inuit? It's not like we have vastly different cultures or anything. Just think leathers, feathers, tipis and of course, dreamcatchers. Federally issued ID cards to prove ethnicity is a whole other kettle of fish and OMG, I just can't right now, OK?!
2. Somehow, if at all possible, tie this activity to reconciliation: Reconciliation is trendy AF right now. Sure there's that whole truth part where we, as a collective society, sit in the horrific understanding that Canada was built on genocide and colonization. Millions of people were killed and dispossessed from their land so some dude with a crown could own more. However, that sounds hard and it would really harsh your vibe. So you're going to harness the power of positive thinking and only think about what can assuage those pesky feelings of guilt that might creep in. After all, that would require a lot of learning and you're doing the best you can since your one Native acquaintance hasn't offered to be your personal tutor yet.
3. Prepare speaking points on why you didn't buy from an Indigenous artist: You will face backlash on your homemade dreamcatcher. Haters are gonna hate. Therefore, it's crucial you are prepared to defend your "Native-inspired" craft. I get it! You appreciate the craftsmanship of our traditional wares. But dang, Native art is EXPENSIVE. Why do we jack up the prices on a jumbling of sinew, sticks and feathers? It's not like a set of beaded earrings takes hours of practice to perfect or that each bead is stitched with intention and care. You don't have that kind of cash flow.
4. Actually make the damn thing: You've spent the last few hours prepping yourself to make a traditional Indigenous handicraft that has millennia of meaning, so naturally you go to the best and most authentic place to learn the technique: YouTube. A quick search yielded over 500,000 results so you'll have plenty of options. Connecting with community and building trust with elders takes too much time. There is an empty space on your living room wall where negative energies are creeping in and needs to be filled ASAP.
5. Instagram the shit out of it: If it's not on your story, did it really happen? Be sure to source out the best hashtags and scrutinize the filters. Once you are ready, hit post. Watch the notifications roll in. You're such a good ally and you didn't even have to interact with a single Indigenous person to do it. Pat yourself on the back. You deserve those likes.