Commercializing Culture

A powwow is defined as the gathering of people native to North America. During these powwows Native Americans gather for several dance competitions and so on. In the article entitled “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Culture as Commodity”, writer Dina Gilio-Whitaker explores the pros and cons of commercializing the pow wow gatherings. Whitaker argues that the capitalistic system that we live in leaves Native Americans and other minorities are left in this vicious cycle of being poor.

Whitaker does a wonderful job at targeting our form of capitalism and it’s relationship to the colonial project. As she puts it, “Culture commodification is a tool of the homogenizing capitalist”. In other words, culture, an entity that isn’t meant to be a product, is made profitable. A thing such as culture becoming saleable should be considered nonsensical because it simply is “diminishing its sanctity”. The powwow culture has been pushed to be transformed into more so a business idea then a representation of one’s loyalty to his/her culture. Whitaker specifically makes notes of the regalia becoming glitzy, and even how people don’t partake in dancing for the right reasons, and she fully puts the blame on commercialization based the on capitalist economy.

A move dubbed by many as cultural imperialism, has slowly grown yet has still remains overlooked by many citizen. Americans have impacted the original Native American way of life by forcibly “integrating them into a market economy”. They have come for their sacred land and have made them into tourist attractions while successfully destroying their culture as they pretend to promote it. Native American styles of clothing have been pushed by stores and are truly poor and stereotypical representations of a unique apparels.

To conclude, the American economy has greatly benefited from the Native American culture, which is fine to an extent, however when one focuses greatly on profit, they tend to strip the culture of it’s realism.

Works Cited: Image