Let’s figure it out together.
Culture is so beautiful, it is the soul that makes our world so diverse. Ideally, culture would be understood, respected and shared with everyone to celebrate. Unfortunately many cultures are confronted with society appropriating their culture instead of appreciating it. Let’s briefly unpack the difference between the two.
This is such an important conversation to have and we really want to approach this topic in a way that will help you understand that participating in culture is not where the problem stems, but rather who and where you're learning from and celebrating with. We understand that this dilemma is faced by many cultures, but we can only speak for ourselves at MINI TIPI and how we hope to be a part of the change to ensure culture is appreciated and celebrated.
So what is the difference you ask?
What is the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation?
Cultural appreciation is the act of recognizing, respecting, and celebrating the culture of a particular group. It involves engaging with members of that culture and listening to their experiences. Hearing about the history, customs, traditions, and practices of the culture from someone connected to it will give you a truer perspective and understanding. Surround yourself with voices from cultures you appreciate. Authors, activists, entrepreneurs, comedians, artists, wherever your interests lie, there are many cultural voices on social platforms you can follow to listen and learn from.
We know cultural appropriation is harmful but we often don’t realize we can be the perpetrator. To appropriate is to take something without asking, and with actions such as purchasing mass-produced items that are inspired from a culture, generalizing many cultures into one, invalidating concerns brought up by that culture, or using culturally traditional clothing, accessories, symbols, and names without understanding their significance, we are encouraging the appropriation of a culture. We are not celebrating in the culture with its members, but enriching those who profit from the aesthetics of other cultures.
The Indigenous cultures are so rich with knowledge and beauty that unfortunately a lot of Native “inspired” jewelry, art work, carvings, beadwork, blankets, and fabrics are being made by non-indigenous peoples or businesses. This is a problem for indigenous communities because the inspired products take away economic opportunities for a native entrepreneurs, and de-values the actual worth of the traditional art form.
Cultural appreciation is a celebration of cultural customs that helps create conversations and awareness in a respectful way. When MINI TIPI collaborates with our artists to create an authentic design, the artist uses art as a form of storytelling and teachings from their culture. We then provide an opportunity for artists to be compensated fairly for their knowledge and talent as artists. Each one of MINI TIPI’s designs is authentic and has a significance related to the indigenous artist’s culture and experiences.
How MINI TIPI decided to address the lack of authentic Indigenous fabrics
Full transparency- this is part of MINI TIPI’s story and how we started in the beginning. We saw nice fabrics with attractive designs, and started making products from them, but we also started asking ourselves questions as we developed our business. These designs were “inspired” with no link to an artist or culture, and this is what made us realize that there was a huge lack of authentic indigenous designs here in Canada. We decided that we wanted to change this, and it really mattered, and became our purpose.
Our mission at MINI TIPI is to celebrate the diversity and richness of indigenous cultures. By creating high quality products with authentic Indigenous designs, we appreciate culture and celebrate it through art woven into textile for everyone to enjoy and connect with. We create conversations and opportunities to learn, listen, and share knowledge.
How to appreciate the culture with pride
It is so important as consumers to understand and be aware of who is making or selling what you are buying. To truly break the cycle of appropriation, we must ask questions, be open minded, respectful, and ensure that you buy indigenous from indigenous artists or companies. Never shy away from wearing those pieces with pride, buying from an indigenous artist means that these are acceptable pieces or symbols for you to wear, as a non indigenous person, as a form of appreciation. Be proud to support and share your new knowledge with everyone.
Make sure to read about our collaboration with Indigenous artists here :
Culture is beautiful. Imagine a world where we all know about each other’s cultures, respect our ways, support one another, and celebrate the beauty of our differences. Let’s all be willing to listen and ask questions that will lead us in a direction of knowledge and celebration. Knowledge is power, power is change, and let’s all move forward together appreciating culture.