Hello! I work for a company that has a project they have titled "Thunderbird." We are not at all a Native-owned or operated company. I am worried that this is culturally appropriative. Is it?
Thank you for asking this question and being mindful about how your company may be appropriating Indigenous culture.
The thunderbird is significant to many different tribes across North America. It plays an important role in our diverse histories, artworks, and spiritualities.
When I talk to others about this, I often say that a good indicator that cultural appropriation is happening is when someone is using another culture’s ancestral knowledge like religion, cultural traditions, fashion, symbols, language, and music, to their advantage or gain. It sounds like your company is profiting off the “Thunderbird” name, and maybe not just in a financial way, but also in terms of marketing advantages.
I would recommend having a conversation with folks at your company or whoever is leading up the “Thunderbird” project to explain why it is cultural appropriation and why it is hurtful. If you want some tips on explaining what cultural appropriation is, check out this post I made about it a while ago.
Hope this helps! Thanks for writing in.