Cultural appropriation is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the practices, customs, or aesthetics of one social or ethnic group by members of another (typically dominant) community or society.” In other words, adopting the culture of a historically oppressed group for profit or status.

Examples of cultural appropriation related to shamanism include:

  • Products sold by non-Indigenous individuals, such as “smudge kits,” infused waters, shamanic rattles, or ritual gift sets
  • Attending a “shamanic” course or retreat and presenting one’s self as a shaman
  • Using words and phrases like “tribe” or “spirit animal” when they’re not part of your culture
  • Adopting cultural symbols such as prints, designs, garb, jewelry, hairstyles, or decorations for aesthetic purposes when they’re not part of your culture
  • Misusing spiritual objects such as drums, chants, crystals, and herbs
  • Creating a business or generating a profit from practices of another culture, such as sweat lodges, smudging, energy clearing, sacred pipe ceremonies, or shamanic training courses