Recently, the Cherokee Nation in the United States gave notice to Stellantic – the company making ‘Cherokee Jeeps’ – that it was time to stop using their name and culture for commercial branding purposes. This followed actions by other American tribes (e.g. pressures on the Washington Redskins football team to change their name, the Navaho tribe taking J.K. Rowling to account for her use of their cultural belief systems for her ‘fantasy magic’ stories etc. etc.) and indigenous peoples in other countries to prevent the misuse and misrepresntation of their culture by commerical entities.
Ireland’s in an interesting place in that regard. We’re not an indigenous people like native Americans – except perhaps in Ireland (or parts of it!) – yet our history means that we’ve ended up one of the few countries in the western world where individuals and commercial entities from other countries feel completely free to come in and ‘cherry pick’ aspects from it, for their own commerical purposes.
That’s a very simplistic summary of course. There are many different aspects to this and very many layers which first need to be looked at before we can even start to understand how we got to where we are.
Still, it’s an interesting parallel and I’m seeing an increased levels of anger amongst Irish people at the way in which ‘Irishness’ is transformed to ‘Oirishness’ for commercial and branding reasons.
‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ anyone?
You can find a link to a Guardian article on the Cherokee situation here: