First Off, Pay Attention and Do Your ResearchAs our anti-racist efforts have gained traction, we are facing a bizarre phenomenon: there are some known racist groups who have recently added "we're not racist" disclaimers to their materials, while continuing to be just as racist as ever. There are also some new "Pagan" or "Heathen" groups, allegedly for "anti-racists," who have white supremacist ties. Some of these groups include pretendians and other appropriators who are harming Indigenous cultures, who hate groups like ours because we have Native members, work directly with Native groups and speak out against appropriation. One particularly sociopathic member of one of these "anti-racist" "Celtic" front groups collected data on people in the Gaelic communities via malicious sockpuppeting behaviour to then give people's personal information to Neo-Nazis.
These front groups are at best Public Relations posturing without substantive action. At worst they are camouflage for those who are actually working to harm our communities.
There are even a couple of actively harmful white people who have been kicked out of the outer circles of Gaol Naofa, and were never let in to CAORANN, but still fly our banner on their tumblr blogs in some bizarre facade of Social Justice Warrior / "safe place" pretense. They appropriate our image while lying about and making racist, misogynist and homophobic attacks on elder members of our community, including posting private information and endangering our children, grandchildren and trans members of our families. In a surreal burst of irony, these heteronormative, gender-conforming, racist white girls are claiming that our gender-variant and LGBT members are somehow "excluding" ourselves from our own communities. Communities straight white people like these two have never been a part of and have no right attempting to colonise, appropriate, or speak for. These outcasts and never-belonged have violated the privacy and boundaries of the very people who tried to help them, the very people they have proclaimed themelves to be unwanted "allies" to. One of them changed security settings to make private discussions into public posts, then lied about it, whilst spitting obscene, racist insults at Indigenous Elders, including a revered, Two-Spirit community leader and a respected Grandmother who only tried to help them.
Gods, spare us the straights misappropriating and policing queer identities. These racists only want a "safe place" for straight white people. They're no allies; the oppressed people they objectify and attempt to tokenize want nothing to do with them.
The trans and Two-Spirit members of our communities have marked these racist colonisers as dangerous people, and are relieved that we never disclosed personal details or medical histories to these abusive homophobes.
Don't trust anyone just because they fly a ripped-off banner. Find out who they really are. Be alert; be aware; and know that people are not always what they claim to be. Watch what work people do, in public and in private, over time, and not just what they say in efforts to improve their public image.
Obvious Racists and Neo-Nazis
- In Sheep's Clothing - Around the US, radical right groups are staging “European” festivals in a bid to draw ethnic whites into their movement. For many years they have targeted those of Nordic descent, and now they are trying to recruit Scottish-Americans, Irish-Americans and others of Celtic heritage. Be aware, and find out more about any “Ethnic European,” “Celtic” or “Gaelic” festivals or groups before making ties or commitments to them.
- Klan Knights Cash in on Celtic Racism - “The Ku Klux Klan, the white supremacist movement known for racial murders and cross-burning in the American deep South, has set up a network of activists in Britain. It is believed that the Klan aims to capitalise on the growth of Scottish and Welsh nationalism - areas it sees as truly white, Celtic and “untainted” with Jewish, black or Asian blood.”
- Yesterday and Today: Nazis and the Righteous Right - “History is tapping us on the shoulder and pointing. The sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz followed so closely by the popification of an ex-member of the Hitler Youth combine to force our attention back to the Nazi catastrophe. ... If we take a look at pre-WWII Germany, we notice it has some things in common with the United States now.”
- Irish Famine Unit II: Racism - "When one powerful group begins to see another people as apes, pigs, beasts, or as an inferior race of subhumans, a disaster is in the making. Any study of racist stereotyping should consider what the dominant group stands to gain. Racism usually begins with economics." Entire towns of Irish civilians were murdered by the invading English, and the few survivors hunted down and sold into indentured servitude in the Caribbean, where they suffered alongside the Africans and Indigenous, with whom they intermarried and made common cause. As recently as the fifties, in England and America, the Irish were still referred to as “White Negroes” and subjected to hatred, violence and discrimination. It is ironic that the Irish and Irish Diaspora, who the White Supremacists would now like to recruit, actually have more in common with the other ethnic groups the Neo-Nazis revile.
- 154 Years Ago: The Choctaw Send Aid - "Moved by news of starvation in Ireland, a group of Choctaws gathered in Scullyville, Okla., to raise a relief fund. ... Perhaps their sympathy stemmed from their recognition of the similarities between the experiences of the Irish and Choctaw. Certainly contemporary Choctaw see it that way. They note that both groups were victims of conquest that led to loss of property, forced migration and exile, mass starvation, and cultural suppression (most notably language)."
- NMAI Blog: A Gift from the Choctaw Nation - "In 1995, Irish President Mary Robinson, later UN Commissioner for Human Rights, visited the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma to thank the Choctaws for their generosity toward the Irish, a people with whom she noted their only link was 'a common humanity, a common sense of another people suffering as the Choctaw Nation had suffered when being removed from their tribal land.'"
- How the Irish Became White - Any understanding of racism must include an analysis of "whiteness." Once seen as non-white, many Irish immigrants to American realized they could now gain entry into the white power structure by doing the rulers' dirty work of oppressing other minorities. While many of us in the diaspora also have anti-racist ancestors who worked in solidarity with other oppressed groups, we also have ancestors (or at least relatives) who reacted to colonization with assimilation.
- Resolution of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Elders Circle - Inter-tribal council of Navajo, Hopi, Muskogee, Chippewa-Cree, Northern Cheyenne, Haudenosaunee and Lakota Elders speak out against the appropriators. "It has been brought to the attention of the Elders and their representatives in Council that various individuals are moving about this Great Turtle Island and across the great waters to foreign soil, purporting to be spiritual leaders. ...be warned that these individuals are moving about playing upon the spiritual needs and ignorance of our non-Indian brothers and sisters. The value of these instructions and ceremonies are questionable, maybe meaningless, and hurtful to the individual carrying false messages."
- Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality - Unanimously passed by an international gathering of US and Canadian Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations, about 500 representatives from 40 different tribes and bands. If you're attending a fake sweat or smoking your idea of a chanupa, or attempting to "invoke" White Buffalo Calf Woman into your Neopagan or Newage ritual, they are talking to you:
"Whereas non-Indian charlatans and "wannabes" are selling books that promote systematic colonization of our Lakota spirituality; and ...
"Whereas individuals and groups involved in the "New Age Movement," in the "men's movement," in "neo-paganism" cults and in "shamanism" workshops all have exploited the spiritual traditions of our Lakota people by imitating our ceremonial ways and by mixing such imitation rituals with non-Indian occult practices in an offensive and harmful pseudo-religious hodge-podge;...
"1. We hereby and henceforth declare war against all persons who persist in exploiting, abusing, and misrepresenting the sacred traditions and spiritual practices of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people."
- Letter from Chief Arvol Looking Horse on Protection of Ceremonies - "I now see since these reports, there is a much bigger problem then I ever knew in concern of the violations. Even more reports of deaths, charging, molestation and mixing of other beliefs, this must stop! These violations are affecting our children's health, many of our children ending their life with suicide. They do not feel that ceremonial energy that was meant for them. The People in these hoc'okas need to become stronger and connected with our children's needs to survive."
- Cheyenne River Tribal Resolution on the Protection of Ceremonies - "the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, on behalf of the entire Lakota Oyate, hereby declares, re-asserts, and expresses its intentions to protect and preserve the Lakota Oyate's ownership of Lakota culture, language, and ceremonies, including our most Sacred Calf Pipe and its keeper, all other pipe carriers, sacred sites; ceremonies, songs and stories, the Lakota language; and all other tangible and intangible Lakota cultural property."
- Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) Fraudulent Indians Task Force - "Hundreds of false Indian groups are claiming to be sovereign tribes and are teaching their own fabricated culture and history as if it were Indian. ... Tribes must be the guardians of their history and culture and not let it be stolen and manipulated by imposters."
- Cherokee Spiritual Leaders - Letter from Dr. Richard L. Allen, Research & Policy Analyst for the Cherokee Nation. "Traditional Cherokee healers and spiritual leaders provide their services to the Cherokee people. ... They do not advertise their services through any form of media and certainly not over the internet."
- Tribe establishes Cherokee Identity Protection Committee - "Fraudulent Cherokee identity is a direct attack on our Tribal sovereignty and an affront to our culture and traditions. We must protect our elders and traditionalists by stopping these groups and individuals from appropriating our culture, language and traditions.” Video: What is a real Indian Nation? What is a fake tribe?
- Black Indian Confederacy of North America - Bringing to light the historical events that took place among American Indian nations and runaway slaves, and providing a support base for Native people on the reservations.
- New Age Frauds and Plastic Shamans - New Age Frauds and Plastic Shamans (or NAFPS) is a group of Native American activists and their supporters, dedicated to fighting cultural misappropriation, and other abuses and misrepresentations of First Nations religions and cultures. Look up your favorite frauds in the forum and feel free to ask questions.
- The New Age Speak to Plain English Dictionary - For anyone wondering what the heck New Agers are talking about, here are humorous translations into Plain English, from American Indians and former New Agers mocking New Age pretentiousness and falsehoods. Includes a helpful list of links and sources for debunking New Age lies and exposing imposters and predators who pose as spiritual leaders.
- Plastic Shamans and Astroturf Sun Dances: New Age Commercialization of Native American Spirituality - by Lisa Aldred. "Real Native Americans are not a part of most Euro-Americans' lives. Yet non-Indians feel that their own lives are increasingly 'unreal' and 'inauthentic,' so they imagine a preindustrial, pre-European America where things were 'real' and 'authentic,' ...they simulate the original 'authentic Native American spirituality' and consume it. Meanwhile, their simulations allow them to ignore real indigenous peoples."
¶ "This cycle does not end their alienation. They are still so removed from any recognition of social relations (much less historical conflict) that they cannot understand why Native American peoples themselves would object to their appropriations. The individualism that has become characteristic of both capitalism and American political ideology cannot fathom political and social accountability. Yet the kind of community New Agers so desperately seek to relieve their feelings of isolation would, in my view, not be defined by superficial trappings, but by collective accountability."
¶ When Indigenous people ask that outsiders not mimick their ceremonies, many appropriators claim this infringes their freedom of religion, however, "It might be noted that the 'freedom of religion' clause in the First Amendment protects individuals from government infringement of their right to hold their religious beliefs. It does not guarantee them a right of access to a particular group's spiritual traditions. Given that Native American reservations are recognized as 'domestic dependent nations' by the U.S. government (and some have never conceded U.S. sovereignty at all), this 'right of access' is even more unfounded from a legal standpoint."
- Kiesha Crowther - The Once and Future Fraud - by Kathryn. "One of the reasons Kiesha Crowther's myth appeals to many Europeans is that her story is not original. She has not only appropriated Native American imagery for her false persona. Crowther is also utilizing a prime European myth: that of the oppressed, lonely, unparented outsider child who realizes they are actually the long-foretold leader of myth and prophecy." Unfortunately, in Kiesha "Little Grandmother"'s case, it's all a great, big, lie.
- Americans and "Indigenous" Identity - by Kathryn. Is it true that everyone is indigenous to somewhere? What happens when non-Natives in America decide they can become "indigenous" - even if they do not live in, and were not raised in, the lands of their ancestors? What happens when non-Natives who've lived their whole lives as privileged Americans decide that they will "discover their own indigeneity" and then proceed to mirepresent themselves as Indigenous, often replacing the voices of actual Indigenous people with their own? Doing so is an act of colonization, cultural erasure, and cultural genocide. This post has lots of links to what actual Indigenous people are saying about the privileged Newagers and Neopagans who are attempting to colonize and misappropriate Indigenous Knowledge and Identities.
- On Indigenous Knowledge and Indigenous Identity - Recently there is a movement on the part of some non-Natives - Americans, Canadians and Europeans - to identify as "Indigenous European." The first people to use this phrase were white supremacist groups, who are appropriating the term "Indigenous" to make it seem like white people are somehow an oppressed minority. Others are appropriating it because they have racist stereotypes of Native people as all "mystical" and therefore white folks who call themselves "Indigenous" are somehow more mystical too. We have seen non-Natives using this cloak of "Indigenous European" in an attempt to colonize councils of actual Indigenous people, and to even lead and pretend to speak for real Indigenous People. We feel this is an act of racism and attempted cultural genocide.
- CAORANN Stands in Solidarity with Idle No More - The struggle for sovereignty in the First Nations has many parallels to the struggle for sovereignty in the Six Celtic Nations. Those of us living in the diaspora face different challenges than do our relatives in the Celtic Nations. Many of us live on NDN land that is unceded territory, or where the treaties to co-exist in harmony were violated by our non-Native relatives. It is important to us to respect the traditional laws, treaties, and Elders of the lands where we now live, to find a way to live in harmony and mutual respect. We stand in solidarity with Idle No More.
- The Kaswentha or Two Row Wampum - a treaty of respect for the dignity and integrity of both the First Nations and the settler communities, which stresses the importance of non-interference of one nation in the business of the other. The early principles established in the Kaswentha formed the basis of all Haudenesaunee treaties with other nations including the Dutch, the French, the British and the the Americans. See also Niagara Two Row
The Celtic Nations Now, and the Revival of Earth-Honouring, Gaelic Spiritual Ways
- The Celtic League - An inter-Celtic organisation that campaigns for the social, political and cultural rights of the Six Celtic Nations. Language preservation and revitalization is a high priority.
- Gaol Naofa - An international Gaelic Polytheist organization and community, promoting the preservation and revival of the earth-honoring Gaelic traditions, languages, and cultures. Gaol Naofa has an excellent FAQ, articles, videos, informational flyers, as well as a Facebook and Twitter presence. Gaol Naofa has a staunch, anti-oppression policy, and kicks out people who violate it. Like us they have a diverse, extended community that includes advisors from the First Nations and Celtic Nations. Most of the CAORANN council are proud members of Gaol Naofa.
- Tairis - Gaelic Polytheist site of CAORANN Council member Annie Loughlin, with writings on Gaelic culture and traditions, especially matters particular to the land where she lives in Scotland.
- The CR FAQ - An Introduction to Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism - Co-authored by a diverse collective of CR practitioners, including some of the founders of the tradition, it is the most thorough introduction to Celtic Reconstructionism. It was written by consensus and represents a milestone for our communities. As the CR community is so large now, with a number of distinct branches, we will probably never be able to agree on this much again.
Important Note: We took people at their word when they signed off on these principles. But just as we have no control over the behaviour of those who self-identify as CRs or Gaelic Polytheists, we did not thoroughly check out everyone who participated in the FAQ project. Do not take anyone's name on the FAQ, or even their use of the CAORANN banner, as a guarantee the person lives by the principles they swore to in public. We have verged on not promoting the FAQ anymore due to the offenses of some of the participants. We have broken all ties with those from the FAQ project who are now participating in racist cultural misappropriation and the degradation of some of our most longstanding and respected traditions, or in another case, even collaborating with white supremacists in an effort to harm our communties. We still stand by the text; we just don't endorse the work of everyone who signed off on it. See our note at the top of this page about paying attention to what people are actually doing not claiming in service of PR.
- Are you, like, Wiccans? Shamans? Traditionalists? - All these various "Celtic" terms can be confusing. We have no control over what people call themselves, especially when they are strangers or people we've only met on the Internet. But this may help people sort through it all.
- CR is Not Eclectic - "CR was actually begun as an alternative to eclectic Neopagan traditions," so we are baffled and offended that some people have tried to introduce eclectic approaches while still claiming to be CR. Some pretendians in plastic paddy clothing have tried to justify their cultural appropriation via "respectful" eclecticism; usually they are going through the motions of outsider fantasies of Native traditions, while calling them by grossly misunderstood Celtic terms. It is baffling to us that some would claim to be CR while their practices are so clearly a mishmash of multiple, misappropriated cultures. This is why we are critical of eclectic approaches to ceremony, as they are usually attempted by those with little respect or understanding of any of the traditions they steal from. If they understood the depth of the traditions they would know better than to try such a thing.
- "Celtic Sweatlodge" - If someone is telling you their eclectic rituals which are clearly based on First Nations ceremonies are "universal," or "Celtic," they're just showing their ignorance.
- CAORANN on Facebook - Updates and networking. Since most everyone has migrated to Facebook...
- Gaelic Polytheism - Facebook discussion group, run by
General Anti-Racist Resources
- The Anti-Racist Alliance - Educational materials, and home of "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"
- The Do's and Don'ts of Being a Good Ally - Helpful hints for anti-racist work, and just being a respectful, tolerable (and maybe even likeable) human being. Page down, it's there below the graphic.
- Southern Poverty Law Center - Long-running activist group, fighting the most virulent racists. Home of the Hatewatch blog and other invaluable resources.
- 10 Conversations On Racism I’m Sick Of Having With White People - How many times have you seen this script play out?
- The Ally's Toolkit - Understanding the role of intent, tone arguments, intersectionality and accountability.
- A Guide to Allyship & Interracial Friendships - Jan 30, 2015, By TheFeministGriote. Understanding how, as hard as white people may think it is to unlearn racism, it's POC who are taking the real risks, who are being routinely triggered and drained by white people who have not yet learned to see their unearned privilege, let alone overcome it. Required reading for anyone who hopes to one day be considered an ally. (Hint, you don't get to proclaim yourself an ally. Whether you've shown yourself to be helpful or harmful to the members of an oppressed community... it's not up to you to make that call, it's up to the people who actually experience that oppression. Some of the most harmful people out there are self-proclaimed "allies.")
More links and news can be found on
Annies's blog: Tairis - a Gaelic Polytheist blog, sister site to her website, with GP-related articles and personal posts about living her spirituality.
Kathryn's blog: Amhran nam Bandia - Occasional musings on spirituality and culture, Gaelic Polytheism (Ioma-Dhiadhachd Ghŕidhealach / Ildiachas Gaelach), language and cultural preservation, protecting sacred sites, and solidarity with our indigenous friends, relatives, advisors and colleagues.