Tipi weddings and cultural appropriation may always be linked topics – primarily because of the visual connection to Native American Tipis and the controversial history there (Keep reading to find out how Tentipi are completely different). Cultural Appropriation can be a sensitive and can be confusing to people who haven’t heard the phrase before.
What Is Cultural Appropriation?
Cultural appropriation is when a majority group use cultural elements of a minority group in a disrespectful or exploitive way.
Perfectly well meaning people can accidentally cause offense by taking something from somebody else’s culture. Using it without understanding or respecting it’s origins. For example – someone may think a Native American headdress as a fancy dress costume is just fun. In reality it can be the equivalent of somebody wearing a Victoria Cross on their chest ‘just for fun’. Obviously, this can be seen as very disrespectful as people have earned those accolades and they shouldn’t be paraded around as fancy dress.
Tipi Weddings and Cultural Appropriation
As I mentioned, the use of tipis is a bigger concern in America due to links with Native American tribes. However, our tipis have no connection whatsoever with Native American tipis.
Our tipis are based on the Sami Kata. They were used by the indigenous Sami people of northern Scandinavia as a wind resistant, quick to build home whilst they followed the migration of their reindeer herds. We are members of the Authentic Nordic Tipi Association and have always maintained proper respect to the Sami Kata.
We try hard to remain respectful to the history of our tents and love educating people on the origins. This is something that their manufacturer, Tentipi, takes very serious. The tipis are still sewn in Swedish Lapland today!
It is important to understand the significance of a cultural element before you use it. Using Hawaiian Leis for a wedding may be seen as offensive if you are not a part of the Hawaiian culture because of the meaning behind them. Are you using something because it is the best structure/tool for the job, or because you like how it looks?. A ‘Sami themed’ wedding would be seen as very inappropriate if you are not a part of the Sami culture. However using tipis for your outdoor wedding; so long as they are genuine and made with respect for their origins, is an excellent way to take inspiration from another culture!