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Totem Vodka and Indigenous Cultural Appropriation

posted Aug 24, 2016, 11:28 AM by A Rodney   [ updated Sep 27, 2016, 2:01 PM ]

Cultural appropriation generally refers to the adoption of traditional practices, objects, or images by a person or group that is not part of the originating culture. Cultural appropriation can become problematic when it is done without permission, serves to benefit the dominant group, and erases or further marginalizes the oppressed group. In this way, cultural appropriation can recreate larger structures of inequality.

On a recent stroll through a duty-free shop, I was introduced to one of these problematic examples in the form of a new Canadian product named “Totem Vodka,” packaged in a bottle resembling a totem pole. Totem Vodka is not a product of Indigenous entrepreneurship. Read about why this is a form of problematic cultural appropriation on my Sociological Images post here