This is a really great article that unpacks some of the questions we've been discussing this semester re: copyright, indigeneity, colonialism, & authenticity (though this article is in the context of Saami communities in Europe). I would really recommend reading thru the whole thing, but here's some of the major points:
I wish to discuss two questions. The first one focuses on the actual work of art itself, and challenges the notion of art as something beyond and above criticism. Moreover, this section of the text seeks to address the copyright infringement and commodification of Saami art as something that can and should be changed outsiders such as Vipola, by looking at the way in which her art cheapens the value of the Sámi Duodji mark. The second and by far more serious issue being addressed in this text is the actual artistic framework and Othering discourse used by Vipola, which conflates queer identities with a marginalised Indigeneity, through her statement at the opening night of her exhibition that she was, and I quote, ‘coming out as a Saami woman’.
...As far as I am concerned, Vipola’s work of art is a slap in the face of actual Saami artists who have to overcome existing and often highly conflicting ideas of what their own identity is on a daily basis. By appropriating a Saami identity, she is colonising a space that few Saami have access to in the first place. In other words, it is questionable if a Saami artist wishing to question what indeed constitutes duodji today had been offered the same access to a public space as Vipola. This is an important question as minorities are continuously denied platforms to address issues within their own communities, while outsiders can easily secure funding, public support and media interest for the very same projects. This is consequently not something that singles out Vipola’s project as unique, on the contrary. In a Swedish context, Queering Sápmi, while on the whole a needed project, benefits from the same outsider privilege as Vipola, meaning that what has been centred so far is far more the Swedish duo behind the project, than the silenced Saami queer community the project claims to represent. Being a member of the majority and representing a minority is intrinsically complicated and could easily turn into a silencing, colonising and even racist project, which I would claim is the case with Vipola’s exhibition when framed as it currently is.
Quoting writers like Tuck and Yang then, Vipola’s choice to come out as a Saami woman and explaining her move to do so as something that could be compared to sex reassignment surgery offered to transsexual people – which is highly offensive to both transsexual people and members of indigenous communities – could be interpreted as an ‘enactment of […] tropes [that function] as a series of moves to innocence […] which problematically attempt to reconcile settler guilt and complicity, and rescue settler futurity’.