New Fire

An indigenous artist encounters a wild west 'theme park'

When Jacob Pratt was invited to perform in Sweden for the summer, he was excited to share his talents and culture... until he found himself in the wild west of cultural appropriation.
Jacob Pratt was hired to dance and play the flute at a Swedish summer destination.

Jacob Pratt is a traditional Dakota / Saulteaux dancer, flutist, and entrepreneur. He makes a living practicing his culture. 

So when Jacob was offered the opportunity to perform at a tourist destination in Sweden for the summer, he jumped at the chance to share his talents and traditions. 

But the morning he arrived, he quickly realized he had made a mistake.

The park was 'wild west' themed, and full of imagery Jacob found problematic.

"Right off the bat I started to see the negative side of it," said Pratt, "one of the first people we met came up to us and started doing this funny little dance and singing 'hi-how-are-you hi-how-are-you'." 

Jacob Pratt practices and teaches dance for a living.

Jacob, hired to perform for the entire season, was shocked - but continued to work and tried to make the most of it. But after a few weeks of being confronted by indigenous stereotypes, he decided it was time to leave. 

Every day I saw something that offended me. And that made me realize, wow, this is really how the world sees us.- Jacob Pratt

Pratt says that this experience, while extreme, represents an outdated, inaccurate stereotype of North American indigenous people.

"As a young Dakota - Ojibwe man, I'm doing all I can to change these images," said Pratt. 

To hear Jacob's story, click the 'listen' button above.