Harry Potter creator JK Rowling is delving into Native American mysticism in a new Pottermore series — but Native Americans are not happy about it.
Rowling's The History of Magic in North America, published online, focuses on Indian wizards. The story describes how the wizards don't need wands, and are experts in magic relating to plants and animals. They're adept at potions, and can often turn into animals at will, she notes.
Rowling also discusses the Navajo belief in skin-walkers, people who take on the forms of animals, but she says malevolent skin-walkers were "derogatory rumours" started by non-magical, often fake medicine men.
Thanks but no thanks for the lessons, say Native Americans and their supporters, who accuse Rowling of cultural appropriation in the way colonialists do, notes Mashable.
"Thanks to [Rowling], hordes of non-native adults and kids are going to completely misunderstand and assume they are experts on Native Americans," tweets one reader.
Adrienne Keene writes on Native Appropriations that the story strengthens a dangerous idea of Native Americans as only existing as "fantasy creatures" and not real human beings — while at the same time not taking seriously the very real spiritual traditions of Native Americans.
"We're not magical creatures," she writes. "We're contemporary peoples who are still here and still practice our spiritual traditions, traditions that are not akin to a completely imaginary wizarding world," she says.
No response yet from Rowling.