Replied to

I mean, assuming those indigenous peoples actions are actually like, non-exploitative of the plantfolk.

I live in North Carolina, and there are… a lot of Indigenous folk in the area who perform culture for colonists, saying they’re doing it for the tribes that once lived in the area. (Even though there are active tribes not that far away, and these folk make no effort to work with those living Indigenous cultures.

Recently I was having an uncomfortable conversation with one of these folk. I’m interested in trying to cultivate a bit of sweetgrass for myself, so I don’t have to rely on the hassle of having it posted in from friends, and thought maybe they knew of a local cultivation.

…They sourced their medicine from ebay, and got really mad when I asked questions about where their sellers sourced from. These are complicated issues and it’s never as simple as “if someone with the right identity made it, it’s definitely okay.”

This ignores the complex power dynamic between cultures. It may be that these Indigenous people are only selling these things because they need to, in order to earn a living. That’s… rough. Colonists complain all the time about “alienation of labor,” and that labor is rarely the export of cultural artifacts outside of their cultural context. There are consequences of these alienations, even as a living is earned.

Say you make a dreamcatcher, an artifact of your community. You can either take some money from someone and give away the artifact, never to see it again or know where it goes or what its used for, what people will think of it, what meaning it will have. Or you could take that money and then give the dreamcatcher to a relative, someone who will appreciate it for what it is as you made it.

There’s nothing stopping folk from just gifting money to Indigenous peoples so that they can have the resources to develop their culture. Predicating it on currency-backed barter is forcing a concession to colonial economics, which might situationally invalidate the exchange at-hand!