No, I’m Not Your Spirit Animal

No, I’m Not Your Spirit Animal October 12, 2019
Spirit Animals photo by Flabber DeGasky. Licensed under CC 2.0

I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about people calling individuals spirit animals. Maybe you saw posts about Lizzo or other individuals being referred to as someone’s spirit animal. When I look through my twitter feed or a simple internet search people still refer to her and other individuals this way. The tweet, or response, that really started it all was this :

I’m sure this is probably going to be controversial on all sides of the issue. At the time, both indigenous and non-indigenous people came out both for and against the use of the term spirit animal. I feel however that if you know that some indigenous people are being offended then you need to stop. I have native ancestry myself coming from the Blackfoot Lakota and the Seminole tribes. I feel like it’s the 21st Century, and even the most privileged and precious need to realize that offending someone out of ignorance or idiocy was never okay. Uncaring individuals do not need to continue to insult and abuse people who have been maligned and mistreated for hundreds of years.  There are a lot of other things one could say instead of this. Some people have suggested using the terms companion animal, animal guide, patronus ( to borrow a term from Harry Potter,) I even heard someone online the other day suggest the term “ghost fauna.” Whatever you choose remember that people are not animals, and even animals should be treated with respect. Indigenous people and people of color are asking to be seen and heard for who and what they are, that is a basic right that has been frequently denied them.

As I write this it is almost time here in the U.S. for the unfortunate holiday of Columbus Day. A day many think should instead be used to support and recognize Indigenous people. If you feel the same please sign the petition here.

Leonard Peltier by Becker1999. Licensed under CC 2.0.

And next time you want to take a quiz about your spirit animal, do your best to think about what you can do instead of culturally appropriating native values and terms. Maybe possibly even supporting the Human Rights campaigns to free Leonard Peltier and RedFawn, two indigenous people wrongly imprisoned !

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