There are very few things that legitimately keep me up at night. I try to live without regrets, so it’s usually only the physical pain that keeps me awake. There are a few exceptions, though, and one of them is eating at me right now.
I never want to pull a Rowling.
In case you haven’t heard, JK Rowling put out a series of books folding Native American culture into her mythology, and establishing a North American branch of her wizarding tradition. My first reaction, of course, was, “That’s ridiculous. The settlers were the wizards. That’s why they were so good at making our nations disappear. Treatorius Disregarda!” My friends and I laughed it off, since we always try to have a sense of humor about what we can’t change. Then I found out exactly what she’d done, and I wasn’t really laughing anymore. To give you an idea: In her mythology she says there were never skinwalkers, only wizards that were persecuted by the establishment of non-magical persons. That encapsulates my first two problems with it, in one statement, but more on that in a bit.
I’m sure her intent was to respond to fans who felt left out of the English-centric Harry Potter series, and wanted to see themselves reflected in the series. That seems pretty clear here. Intent, however, is just not enough to cover the way she did this. First, she lumped a lot of nations into one aggregate concept, a la ‘Native Americans’. To fold Navajo, Apache, Cree, Lakota, Hopi, Cherokee, Seminole and so many others into one label like that is pretty upsetting on its face. It seems the various spiritual and druidic traditions in the UK didn’t mind this homogenization, or I didn’t hear about it, but they had a lot more in common than the nations being stuck in a cultural blender here. Their culture wasn’t painted as false propaganda, and reduced to yet another victimization either, and that’s what really galls.