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JK Rowling Bashed For Writing About 'Native American Wizards'

Fans are bashing JK Rowling for writing about Native American wizards

History of Magic in North America, is becoming a series on Rowling's Pottermore website, but many people are bashing the author for using an ancient culture "as a convenient prop." JK Rowling is being bashed for appropriating the "living tradition of a marginalized people" by writing about the Navajo legend of the skinwalker in a new story. The Harry Potter author posted the first part of a four-part series, the History of Magic in North America on her website Pottermore, on Tuesday. Subsequent episodes are published everyday until Friday. Tying in to the release in November of the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the short piece of writing deals with the magic New World in the 14th and 17th centuries. Despite many people praising the new Harry Potter stories, the author was bashed online by a number of voices from Native American communities, particularly over writing about skinwalkers, which in Navajo legend are said to be evil witches or wizards who can take the form of animals. JK Rowling writes that the myth “has its basis in fact … A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi, that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation. In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumours often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure.” Responding to a question on Twitter, Rowling said that “in my wizarding world, there were no skinwalkers”, with the legend created by those without magic “to demonise wizards”. But, one social media and Native American activist is standing up to JK Rowling. On Twitter Dr Adrienne Keene told Rowling on Twitter “it’s not ‘your’ world. It’s our (real) Native world. And skinwalker stories have context, roots, and reality … You can’t just claim and take a living tradition of a marginalised people. That’s straight up colonialism/appropriation.” Keene also had an issue with Rowling's use of the phrase “the Native American community”, saying that “one of the largest fights in the world of representations is to recognise Native peoples and communities and cultures are diverse, complex, and vastly different from one another.” “There is no such thing as one ‘Native American’ anything. Even in a fictional wizarding world,” wrote Keene on her blog, Native Appropriations. She continued: “Native spirituality and religions are not fantasy on the same level as wizards. These beliefs are alive, practised, and protected … 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” Jae wrote: “This isn’t us saying that Native people can’t be wizards or magical beings, but that @jk_rowling’s attempt is unacceptable & disrespectful because @jk_rowling has based her ‘native wizards’ off the same racist stereotypes & miseducation that JM Barrie used in Peter Pan.” And they are not alone. Hundreds of people took to Twitter to argue against JK Rowling's latest short story.

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