Well, that didn’t take long.
Just a few hours after J.K. Rowling posted the first part of her new four-part “History of Magic in North America” series on Tuesday, the Harry Potter author has come under fire from social media users for appropriating Native American culture.
Rowling’s new series — a tie-in with the upcoming Potter-world-set movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — explores the history of the wizarding world in pre-colonial America.
The first part, titled “Fourteenth Century-Seventeenth Century,” briefly describes the legend of the Native American “skin walker,” a witch or wizard who can transform into an animal, and reveals that early Native American wizards were able to perform magic without wands.
“The Native American wizarding community was particularly gifted in animal and plant magic, its potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe,” Rowling writes. “The most glaring difference between magic practised by Native Americans and the wizards of Europe was the absence of a wand.”
Shortly after its release, Rowling was criticized on social media for cultural appropriation of the Native American experience. Cultural appropriation is generally defined as the exploitative adoption of various elements of a culture by another culture.
Rowling directly responded to one tweet, reiterating that her story takes place in a time and place separate from that of traditional Native American history.
.@Weasley_dad In my wizarding world, there were no skin-walkers. The legend was created by No-Majes to demonise wizards.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) March 8, 2016
Read the rest of the tweets below. Rowling is set to post a new part from the series each day this week at 2 p.m. on her Pottermore website.
You must outta your mind if you think we should sit idly while a renown white author uses us as props in her fictional work.
— Native Beauty (@nativebeauties) March 8, 2016
You can't just claim and take a living tradition of a marginalized people. That's straight up colonialism/appropriation @jk_rowling.
— Dr. Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) March 8, 2016
It's strange to me, @JK_Rowling – that I, as a Native American, fight for the rights of Scots while you destroy what's sacred in my culture.
— Modern Scot (@Modern_Scot) March 9, 2016
Now, there are a lot of invented cultures in the story and that's fine, that's fantasy, but fucking about with an existing culture?
— Matt Wallace (@MattFnWallace) March 8, 2016
And Rowling joins the long, not-so-proud tradition of white women ignoring criticism from Native scholars.
— Sarah Hamburg (@sarahrhamburg) March 8, 2016
@fangirlJeanne I keep reading about Rowling and her rewriting of Native American's own lives and just am shaking my head.
— Shannon R (@Hokuboku) March 9, 2016
Harry Potter fandom is overflowing with racist microaggressions Native Americans will have to deal with thanks to culture appropriation.
— Fangirl Jeanne (@fangirlJeanne) March 8, 2016
@jk_rowling you are not entitled to our history, culture, stories. They are not yours to re-invent, re-define, re-imagine, or to profit from
— A Tribe Called Geek (@tribecalledgeek) March 8, 2016